Monday, August 27, 2007

Death on the line

Someone died on the Franklin line near the Windsor Gardens stop this morning. T employees were close-mouthed about what happened (which is appropriate, I think).

The inbound #710 train which departs Franklin Forge Park at 7:45 AM stopped at Walpole and everyone had to get out. We all walked down to a secondary parking lot to a row of T buses. That was an improvement over the last time we'd been bused; that time we were put in school buses, and the drivers had gotten lost. That was when there was a fire on the Windsor Gardens tracks, earlier this summer. It does seem that Windsor Gardens is the trouble spot of the Franklin line lately!

The bus ride took quite a while, but eventually we arrived at Norwood Central. The place was jammed full of people - at least two trains worth, maybe three - but there were two large trains available, both heading towards Boston. Passengers poured across the tracks and crowded into the first train as soon as it opened up.

I got to my destination about half an hour late. Still, I guess I can't complain; at least I survived the morning! And I wouldn't want to trade places with the engineer who drove the train that hit someone, if that's what happened. That must have been a nightmare!

Brian over at myDedham got on the train further down the line, at Endicott. He heard some interesting stuff about the incident; of course, there are always a lot of rumors when something like this happens. He also reports that the conductors didn't handle the repercussions of the incident very well, and came up with an impromptu "no standing" rule at Endicott. Luckily the rule didn't last for long!

Update: According to the news (Boston Globe: Fatal attack ends volatile Norton saga), the man who died on the tracks first shot and killed his ex-girlfriend (who'd had a restraining order against him), shot two of her three teen-aged daughters in the head (both of them are in critical condition; the third was on vacation in Florida). He also killed their family dog before driving to the train station, standing on the tracks, and shooting himself in the head just before the train hit him.

The Globe says it happened at Walpole, but it couldn't have been right at the station - that's where they made us get off the train. The rumors among the passengers was that it was at Windsor Gardens.

This is the second suicide on a southern commuter rail line in the past two or three months, I believe. Someone killed themselves on the Providence line earlier this summer; a co-worker was on that line and came in very late that day. I have to wonder if the incidence of suicide in general has been going up lately. If so, maybe it's connected to the increase in foreclosures and other economic stress factors in the region.

That said, I must say that I feel less sympathy for those who commit suicide by train than for people who kill themselves using almost any other method. They force perfectly innocent engineers to kill them, in many cases causing lasting psychological damage. It's bad enough to kill yourself, but to make someone else live with the memory of it for the rest of their lives? That's contemptible.


Steve Sherlock said...

The Boston Globe has this detail on the fatality

I was on the training leaving Franklin at 6:22, the notice was just appearing on the rotating alert board that we were going to be bussed at Walpole. We got off, walked down to the parking lot and waited for some time until the re-positioned 2 x Route 34 busses to shuttle us to Norwood Central. As we drove through Norward and then to the outskirts, the first bus stopped, the two drivers conversed, the second bus took the lead and we went back into Norwodd and got dropped at Norwood Central. Apparently the first driver did not know where the turn was.

I got into Boston over 2 hours late.

Andrew said...

I was on the train that hit the guy- I boarded at 5:22 in Franklin. My wife and I were trying to make a 7:55 flight to Chicago at Logan. Needless to say, that never happened.
My only experience riding public transit in MA and it was a nightmare. There was little effort made to help us make the flight or get to the airport at all. We eventually just rented a car and drove the 16 hours home.

Quasit said...

steve sherlock, that sounds like quite a hassle! I guess the bus operators learned something from their problems on the early runs, though, because the later runs went relatively smoothly; slow, but nowhere near as bad an experience as yours was.

Quasit said...

Wow. Andrew, I'm awfully sorry that you and your wife had such a terrible experience on your only time on the MA commuter rail. I'm not terribly surprised that the conductors weren't helpful, though; to be honest, I think many of them could use some special training in that area. Are things different on trains in the Chicago area?

I imagine the conductors on your train were pretty shaken up, but that's still not a valid excuse.

It's a pity, because when the trains are running properly the Franklin line is rather pretty. For example, my young son has always loved the bridge at Windsor Gardens. Assuming, of course, that you can actually see through the windows on your train. Lots of them are so scratched up that they're virtually opaque.

I'm curious: what airline did you use, if you don't mind my asking? You'd think they'd have been willing to make some accommodation; after all, it wasn't your fault that you missed your flight.

I hope you'll visit the area again some time, and that things go more smoothly!