Nelson's View

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I can't even imagine

I live in Alta and live within walking distance of some railroad tracks. In fact if you walk into my back yard you can see the tracks. I drive over those tracks at least twice a day on my way to and from work. I probably breeze over those tracks without a second glance now and then and put too much trust in those warning signals. They're just lights and like everything else I'm sure they do break down from time to time.

Last Saturday I was at home when a train hit a tractor. While we may not know all the details of what happened in the accident or what was going on inside the cab, I know now it'll remind me to be a little more careful. It's a sad reminder no matter what age you are... never try to beat a train and 'Look and Listen.' It's sad that it takes something this tragic to remind a person.

Sometimes when I sit at home I can hear the train blaring its horns as it passes and it's so loud it rattles my windows. I often complain when they come blaring through town in the middle of the night and wake me up. Now I think I'll just keep my mouth shut.

A 20 year old woman who was in the tractor was killed instantly in the accident. Her one year old baby was also riding along, and passed away later in the hospital from the injuries. The woman's fiancé who was driving the tractor is in the hospital. It's such a sad story. They were just kids. While I didn't know these people I found myself saddened for them and the families and friends.

I had planned to be out of town that day and almost wished I had been. Young lives were lost. I felt almost heartless covering the scene as a journalist. That's the hard part of this job. I saw way more than I would have liked to have seen. It made me just sick.

I can't even imagine what the train conductor must have been feeling. Perhaps a sense of helplessness. A feeling of sickness. I have heard stories of conductors quitting their jobs after something like this happens because of the emotional trauma. What could he do? By the time he saw something on the tracks it was too late - the mass of a train takes time to bring to a complete stop.

It definitely reminds you that a life can be changed in an instant. I can't imagine receiving a call like that. I can't imagine being the person who has to make that call. My heart goes out to the family and friends. I can't even imagine what you must be going through right now. Please know that you're in my thoughts and prayers and I know others around the community feel the same way as well.

* Reach the columnist at jnelson@stormlakepilottribune.com