Category: Modern Disasters

There has always been a fascination between children and trains? How fast is it going? How much does it weigh? Will it really flatten a penny? The answer is simple. Trains go fast, they weigh a lot and they will flatten a penny.

As we get older our questions change to, ‘What if’s.’ What would happen if the tracks froze? What would happen if a car where on the tracks? How about a tire? Would that be a problem? If the tracks freeze the train goes on, if it hits a car it’ll spin the vehicle and stop when it can but it’ll stay on the tracks.

Unlike the penny that simply gets flattened, a tire on the tracks is an entirely new deal. If it hadn’t been proven before, it was a few months ago when a Chicago train encountered just such an issue. The Blue Line train left the city headed to Forest Park. At approximately 7:40 p.m ., they left the West Side station at Cicero Avenue. Shortly there after, the train encountered a very out of the ordinary problem.

There on the tracks was a semi trailer truck tire. With the tire suddenly in the driver’s vision there was no time to stop. Only Superman could see a tire a mile away and it takes a mile for a train to stop completely. With nothing to do but move forward train and tire hit head on. The result? The front car of the train derailed! The score? Tire 1, Train 0. The tire won.

As of the source date there were no injuries reported. The passengers were shuttled to the next station and the tale of the tire had come to a full circle. Pun intended.


Source: Chicago Tribune, Friday April 11, 2014 – Section 1, Page 9


Going to the mall is about shopping, finding great deals and having an adventure with friends (be they family or friends.) turn the corner and your eyes light up with glee at the sign proclaiming just what you want as 50% off.

This experience was what the shoppers in Huntington New York’s Walt Whitman Mall were expecting. Those people were in for a rude awakening, or should I say sleep? Eternal sleep was the destiny for one person. Another twenty-seven people would recover with the worst hang-over of their lives and they hadn’t even drank an alcoholic beverage.

It was Saturday February 22, 2014 and mall visitors went to the Legal Sea Foods restaurant. In the basement a special was in the making. A water pipe (flue pipe) to the heater broke and carbon monoxide gas built up until it reached the people. It’s toll = 1 dead, 27 injured. End of story. Beware!

Source: Chicago Tribune Monday, February 24, 2014, Section 1, Page 13




We already have too many laws and some are overkill, that say the same thing using different words. Yet there are a few new ones that really were needed. Semi drivers follow rules others on expressways don’t. They have a limited amount of hours they can drive. Going over the allotted amount becomes dangerous. When they weave in their lanes, drivers around them worry the semi will leave its lane and crash into them.

Another rule Semi drivers must follow has to do with the presence of emergency vehicles. When one is present on the side of the road, truckers must slow down dramatically or switch lanes if possible. That said, these particular rules are very much needed as evidenced by Monday night’s I-88 Wreck.

Renato Velasquez was in a hurry to get his load wherever it was headed. Time to him was of the essence and stopping meant lost time. He was tired but onward he trekked. When he saw the emergency vehicle on the side of the road he didn’t yield to the next lane but kept on.

Suddenly his cab jumped as the impact of a collision occurred. He’s rammed into three vehicles on the side of the road. A fiery inferno erupted as a car burst into flames. Tollway worker Vincent Petrella was killed and state trooper Douglas Balder was left critically injured from the accident. Petrella and Balder had stopped to help a broken drown semi driver when the Velsquez found them around 9:45 that night. The driver of the broken down semi was not harmed. Velsquez himself did go to the hospital but he was later released.

Today Renato Velasquez had his bond hearing. Velasquez was charged with four felony counts including:

1.) Driving a commercial vehicle while impaired/fatigued
2.) Driving over the hour limit
3.) Failing to yield to parked emergency vehicles
We shall see what the outcome will be.

As for the sad passing of Vincent Petrella, the state flags were flown at half-staff in his honor at Gov. Pat Quinns orders. His wife, 7-year-old daughter and 4 year old son will miss him, as will the village of Wheeling. The police issued a statement Tuesday to the effect that they expected state trooper Douglas Balder to survive.

Driving can be dangerous at any time and anywhere. What’s the worst is when people purposely decide to disregard the facts in front of them. There really are reasons for these laws. They might not be evident to us, since we were not in the boardroom or in the law office where the work was researched to begin their writing, but they are needed just the same. They protect us each and every day. We should protect them and ourselves by following them. Perhaps if we all do, the number of people killed on our nation’s roads will go down. Wouldn’t that be a nice beginning for this New Year?

Source Info. Came From:
Chicago Tribune Wednesday 1-29-14 Section 1, Page 5

2013 yielded a variety of train accidents. They didn’t discriminate between nation and race but tortured innocent and guilty alike in their dastardly deeds. Some were small and awe inspiring. They killed without mercy and gave mercy. 2013’s rail disasters tell a story of man’s mistakes and natures foilties.

May 28, 2013 – USA
15 CSX Corp. train cars derailed when the train hit a truck near Marsh, Md. The truck driver was left in serious condition. The train carrying hazardous chemicals and other things sparked a fire. It became the third bad train crash in two weeks in the United States.

July 29, 2013 – SWITZERLAND
Grangespress-Marnard, Switzerland was the sight of a head-on crash. Together the two trains carried approximately 40 people. 35 people were injured with 5 seriously. The driver of one of the trains still hadn’t been found by the next day. It was feared that he was dead. What caused the crash was immediately unknown.

August 25, 2013 – MEXICO
Over 250 migrant workers attempting to enter the United States by rail were suddenly in jeopardy. In order to reach what they hoped was a better life for them and their families, Central Americans, many from Honduras and Guatemala, rode on top of a freight train carrying scrap metal. Fear of falling to their deaths had those riding between cars strapping themselves in. Little did they know that falling might have saved their lives this time.
Traveling at only 2 mph when eight of the twelve cars suddenly derailed sending rooftop riders on a jarring tumble. Having been told by rebels that they needed to pay for their ride or a guide less they be refused to leave, the illegal passengers found themselves captive on a slow moving train. The train’s derailment gave them back their freedom but only after 6 died and another 35 or more were injured.
Days later the cause of the wreck was still foggy. Bad rains in a soggy environment could have caused the tracks to no longer be level. In the past spikes and switching devises had been pilfered and that too could have been the cause of the accident.

October 21, 2013 – USA
Each rail accident is different. In the case of the Bartlett, Illinois crash Volodimyr Matkivski was driving a truck hauling a trailer of automobiles. As he came to the upgrade rail crossing he dismissed the signals and put himself in front of the train two blocks out from the station, traveling at 30 mph. Luckily the lead car of the train was empty as it derailed. Unluckily for commuters who’d parked earlier that day the train car crashed into 12 of them. The damage was extensive and for those people, coming back to the parking lot was one of disbelief.
Matkivski along with two passengers on the train were slightly injured. Within three days the Pennsylvania truck driver had been charged with violating a highway-rail grade crossing and avoiding a traffic control device.

November 18, 2013 – EGYPT
A Dahshur, Egypt train plowed through a truck and mini bus killing 26 and injuring another 28 people. Will people ever learn what a railroad crossing is? Sadly railways as well as roads in Egypt have a poor safety record. Camel anyone?

November 23, 2013 – USA
Lake Forest, Illinois had its own death this fall when Dr. Victor Tsirline ignored the lowered gates of a oncoming Metra train and attempted to cross the tracks. He didn’t make it. His car was struck, dragged 100 feet and by the time he was found in the black sedan his soul had left his body. Why he chose to cross against the flashing lights and lowered gates we’ll never know.

December 30, 2013 – USA
Two trains traveled parallel just outside Casselton, N.D. One train carried soybeans westbound while the other was chugging eastbound with a load of 3.5 million gallons of crude oil in a train of 105 tank cars. Everything was fine until the grain train derailed and fell into the crude oil train. The cargo of the two trains mixed with at least five resounding explosions and fires as possibly twelve cars of oil were hit and burst.
No one was hurt but due to the circumstances, most of the town’s of 2,421 residence found themselves evacuated for several days. 65 percent of the town waited to go home until Tuesday afternoon when many were told it was once again safe.

Chicago Tribune – Wednesday May, 29, 2013 Section 1
Chicago Tribune – Tuesday July 30, 2013 Section 1, Page 15
Chicago Tribune – Monday August 26, 2013 Section 1, Page 13
Huff Post (World) – Friday August 30, 2013
Chicago Tribune – Wednesday October 23, 2013 Section 1, Page 9
Chicago Tribune – Wednesday October 24, 2013 Section 1, Page 9
Chicago Tribune – Sunday November 24, 2013 Section 1, Page 15
Chicago Tribune – Tuesday November 26, 2013 Section 1, Page 11
Chicago Tribune – Tuesday November 19, 2013 Section 1, Page 17
Chicago Tribune – Tuesday December 31, 2013 Section 1, Page 12
Chicago Tribune – Wednesday January 1, 2014 Section 1, Page 20
Chicago Tribune – Friday January 2, 2014 Section 1, Page 13

Accidents can happen at any time. Wednesday November 27, 2013 men were busy preparing for the 2014 World Cup Soccer game to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. On the crane was a piece of what would become the stadium’s roof. As it was lifted in the air to be put in place, something went wrong.

The crane collapsed. The huge ceiling tile came crashing down and in the end two workers were dead. Damage to the building’s exterior have risen questions as to Brazil’s ability to host the first game as planned.

By the next day the cause was still unknown according to Andres Sanchez. Sanchez was on site that day as an overseer. To him, the crane’s collapse was a total surprise.

Source Info Found:
Chicago Tribune
Thursday 11-28-13 Section 1, Page 26

Carbon Monoxide (CO) was the cause of death for a worker and a forman in a gold and silver mine in southwestern Colorado. Their deaths followed an explosives accident which released the gas into the air. The cause of the explosion was not known. Nineteen others were made ill by the gas.

Since the gas was introduced into the air by accident the usual additives were not present, which make the gas undetectable to mankind. Carbon Monoxide in its base form is tasteless, odorless and colorless. These men would have no warning. It is hoped that there was some type of alarm to warn them but the paper didn’ t mention it.

These men were overcome by the gas. Carbon Monoxide enters the bloodstream rapidly where it displaces oxygen in the hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying molecule in our red blood cells.) It clings to the blood 300 times faster then oxygen making it intensly deadly with even a short time of exposure.

Depending on the levels they received, these men could have encountered a variety of sympsoms. Carbon Monoxide poisoning includes the following reactions:

* A head ache making it hard to concentrate on a complex task but remain semi-funtional.

* Later the headache intensifies bringing with it terrible throbbing pain, feelings of nausa and vomiting as well as feeling faint with the possibility of lethargy.

* Next comes erratic breathing and a speeding pulse.

* Confusion and disoriantation follow, along with weakness and a loss of cordination.

* Finally a coma that most never recover from.

Carbon Monoxide posioning is deadly. Make sure that you have a CO Detector in your home and that you check the batteries ever 6 months to a year. Be smart, be safe, protect yourself from CO posioning.

Chicago Tribune
11-19-13 Section 1, Page 17

Forensics: A Guide for Writers
by D. P. Lyle, M.D.
Writer’s Digest Books
© 2008

For many Americans reading the daily paper is a part of their day. While they may not prescribe to the paper version and opt to read the news online with computer, tablet or smart phone, they are interested in the daily goings on. They want to stay informed but all too often neither the news paper nor the television does this. Oh, they do some but they don’t follow up.

One day they tell us of an accident and the next day the incedent is forgotten. That first day they tell us of the injuried and suggest the total may change. The next we hear of it, well… that doesn’t exist. They don’t follow up. We never hear if they all survived. We don’t hear of their struggles and joyful recovery. The human element is lost. The paper wants human interest stories but all they can come up with is that the president took a vacation.

Where are the real stories? We don’t hear about “Man Bites Dog.” We hear about the first lady on a new diet. Once in a while I’d like to hear the conclusion of a story. How many people where saved? How was the rescue done? What are their plans for the future?

Pretty, pretty please tell us what happens next. It’s like reading a novel, getting to the good stuff and then being told not to worry about what happened next. We want to know how the story ends.

History falls from the sky and sends water and wood on those below


Yesterday as people walked passed the Brewster building, in the Lakeview area, on the northwest corner of Pine Grove Ave and Diversey Parkway in Chicago, a wooden water tank came crashing down. It was a few minutes before 10 am. People shrieked as the 10 to 13 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter water tank toppled off the 120 year old building. Falling eight stories, it spewed water and splintered wood on those unfortunate to be walking by at the time.

Three people were injured and all are thought to recover. The tower was 1 of about 90 still in use. The Brewster tank supplied the domestic water for the building. Chicago has 178 roof top water towers. They are considered landmarks and require a 90 demolition permit in order to give the city a chance to save them. They are Chicago icons.

At the moment it appears that the reason for the failure and collapse is due to maintenance issues and not to any danger posed by wooden water towers. Many new roof top water towers continue to be built to this day with wood. While steel is sometimes used, wood it the preferred medium. It is naturally watertight.

An investigation is underway to ascertain the reason for the Brewster tank’s failure and if any action will be needed for other buildings in Chicago that still have rooftop water tanks.

Only small flames remain after a natural gas well ruptured 55 miles away from the Louisiana shore. The small disaster in the Gulf of Mexico took no lives as the 44 workers were successfully rescued.

Unfortunately the derick itself didn’t fare as well. The Hercules Offshore rig suffered the loss of supporting beams. Without thier support, portions of the derick and rig’s floor have crumpled and fallen into the gulf.

As of Friday we were informed by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that the leak of gas has stopped. The rupture was caused when sediment stopped the flow of natural gas. These pieces were small but just as a single thread of a spider’s web is delicate and weak yet strong when together, the sediment had enough pressure to destroy.

Weather the derick can or will be repaired is unknown at this time.

Profile: Spanish disaster driver grew up with trains – Reuters shared via

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