Every day we read the newspaper, turn on the TV or the radio and we hear the latest calamity, tragedy to befall mankind. We think that could never happen to us but it does. We get the most unexplained things to happen to us and we cry and wail but we live and carry on.

As a self-taught historian in progress of historical disasters, I try to keep on top of what’s going on. Sometimes I succeed and other times I fall off the research/pay attention wagon. I don’t mean to but life intrudes. Plus, there is always the excuse that so much can happen in so short a time that it becomes nearly impossible to keep up. I do my best but bear with me if I’ve missed one article or several dozen. I have many things to write about but little time to keep at it as the pile keeps climbing higher and higher to the ceiling.

Below are some of the events from the very near past. As more occur and I document them in my own way – they will be added. So please come back from time to time and check to see if what is at the top of the list has changed.


I-88 Crash Leaves 1 Dead & 1 Injured
Wednesday 1-29-14

Crazy = Bus Crash 
Friday January 24, 2014

Explosion and Fire Bring Death to the International Nutrition Plant

Tuesday 1-21-2014

Philadelphia Crude Oil Train Derails

Tuesday January 21, 2014 Section 1, Page 13

Rail Disasters of 2013

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

Crown Point, Indiana – 2 People Killed by 3 Cars

Today’s your wedding day, the happiest day of your life. Everything is going great. You feel wonderful and on top of the world. You could do anything.

That’s how William Knight felt the Saturday of December 14, 2013. That night at 11:45 p.m. he was driving with his new wife when he stopped at the sight of a car stuck in a ditch. Still feeling high and being a true Knight in Shining Armor he stopped to help.

The car’s driver, Linda Darlington, climbed up the embankment to meet him. As they stood there a passenger car hit them both. In a matter of minutes two more cars hit the pair. Both were killed as the new bride watched in horror.

All drivers of the three vehicles were found and issued sobriety tests. None were found guilty of drunk driving and by the next day no one had been arrested.

I would like to tell you that someone was held responsible but the paper never issued an outcome beyond the cut and paste details. To say what happened requires research that may or may not be offer answers.

Source Info Found:
Chicago Tribune – Monday 12-16-13 Section 1, Page 9

Two Dead in Colorado Mine Due to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide (CO) was the cause of death for a worker and a foreman 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 intensely deadly with even a short time of exposure.

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

* A headache making it hard to concentrate on a complex task but remain semi-functional.

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

* Next comes erratic breathing and a speeding pulse.

* Confusion and disorientation follow, along with weakness and a loss of coordination.

* Finally a coma that most never recover from.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning 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 poisoning.

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

Piece of Future Roof Falls Killing Two

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

13 Year Old Shot & Killed by Sheriff’s Police

As we grew up many of us had fun playing cops and robbers. We got out our guns and had a ball switching it up; some times we played the cop, other times the robber. The more real looking the gun the more envied we were by the other kids in the neighborhood. Today playing with our toys can get us killed.

The family of a boy in Santa Rosa, California found this out October 22, 2013 when their 13-year-old was killed by Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies. The boy had a replica assault rife in his hands when the officers shot him. With all the children these days shooting up schools, these men didn’t stop to ask questions. They shot first and now their office has declined answering questions.

It is sad to think that our children can not grow up in the same safe and natural manner that we did. We knew right from wrong and many of us who played cops and robbers became cops while very few became robbers. Perhaps someday this gentle innocence will return where children will again be safe to play without fear that their play-acting will be taken as true actions.

I weep for this child and his family who lost their child to the terror of modern day living. Children should be allowed to be children. They should grow up gradual and enjoy being outside making up their own games and roll-playing to their hearts contents versus living in the darkness of a house staring at a computer or television screen playing video games.

Source Used:
Chicago Tribune – Thursday October 24, 2013 Section 1, Page 22

The Over Weight Burden and its Rollercoaster Effects

It used to be that people had common sense. They knew if they were able to do something or if it wasn’t really a possibility. They knew their own restrictions and they either lived with it or they did what they could to change the situation. They did not make their own personal problem everyone else’s problem. Today we live in a world where we share too much and expect too much.

This past summer tragedy struck when Rosa Ayala-Goana fell to her death from a roller coaster in Arlington, Texas at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. Rosa, a large woman, complained about the safety bar which she felt wasn’t catching on the 14 story Texas Giant roller coaster. Instead of getting off, she went up and came down in the fashion of nightmare dreams where you’re flying until you hit the ground.

Rosa has not been the only person to come tumbling from a roller coaster in recent years. In 2011 an Army Veteran of Iraq fell from a New York coaster. Unlike Rosa, his problem was not his size but his lack. The man was missing both legs.

Increasingly ride guardians are having to turn more and more riders away. American’s sizes has changed much in the past 40-50 years and the one size fit all seat no longer works. Frustrated people who are turned away don’t seem to see the wisdom behind the park worker’s decision. They only know they’ve been turned away. They don’t realize that that man or woman could have just saved their life.

Several amusement parks have begun to post a two arms, two legs requirement. Others use what they’re calling “Sample seats,” to help the public understand. If you don’t fit, you can’t ride. It’s as simple as that. It’s important to know that the people at the park are on your side. They are doing this for your own good. Heed their advise. There really is a reason why they said, “No.”

Source Info. Found:

Chicago Tribune – Tuesday 7-23-13 Section 1, Page10
Wednesday 7-24-13 Section 2, Page 5

Collapse of the Brewster Building Water Tower

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.

What’s Going On In This World

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 incident is forgotten. That first day they tell us of the injured 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.