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Off-road crash victim hailed as hero
August 16, 2010 8:58 PM   Subscribe

8 poeple died on Saturday, August 14th when an off-road truck race driver accidentally veered into the crowd of spectators in California's Mojave Desert. Andrew Therrien , 22, was there and pushed three people out of the way when the truck jumped off course, saving their lives. One of them was his three-year-old daughter. Therrien was killed instantly.
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo (76 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a tragedy.
posted by Dr. Send at 9:07 PM on August 16, 2010


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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:10 PM on August 16, 2010


Extremely sad, but I hesitate labeling a hero someone who would take a small child to an event where "the trucks race by so close you can touch them".
posted by dhartung at 9:12 PM on August 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


I never understood the logic of people standing mere feet away from barely-in-control racing vehicles. Rally racing, I'm looking at you.

But this is an incredibly sad thing.
posted by DMan at 9:12 PM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


"It's not anybody's turn to baby-sit us. We're out there -- we understand the risk. Everybody that was there understood the risk -- the drivers, the spectators, everybody," said Carty.

Ugh. I don't want to say something like "The three-year old girl didn't choose to go or understand the risk of losing her father" because blaming the victims never helped anything. Just a horrible thing that happened.
posted by amethysts at 9:19 PM on August 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't want to say something like "The three-year old girl didn't choose to go or understand the risk of losing her father"

The best way to not say something is not to say it.
posted by jessamyn at 9:20 PM on August 16, 2010 [40 favorites]


.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:22 PM on August 16, 2010


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posted by dealing away at 9:24 PM on August 16, 2010


I hope the organizers will spend more next year (assuming the race isn't cancelled) to ensure that the 100 foot rule is actually observed. That said, it's easy to call this guy a hero because his instinctive reaction was to help others instead of himself. Regardless of his deciscions up until that point, he had something that not everyone does.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 PM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was a bad idea to bring children so close. But if any of the bad ideas I have acted on ever threaten people I care about, I hope I have the courage to act as selflessly as Therrien did.
posted by ericost at 9:33 PM on August 16, 2010 [22 favorites]


We are very cavalier in our own small worlds, in our own ways. During my early childhood there were plenty of times when I felt I didn't quite trust my dad to keep me safe. But I didn't say anything then because I somehow already knew that calling these things into question was taboo. As an adult I am able to see that he actually drank quite a lot and did a lot of drugs, probably without my mom knowing about most of it, and that sometimes I was in every bit as much danger as I assumed at the time. But in my dad's world, in my dad's mind, he was in charge, and what's crazy is that's actually often just enough to keep things holding steady. Just steady enough.

Like it or not, after people have kids they go on with their own lives, and they bring their kids along with them. It's just the way it is. I think parents live in fear of doing something truly stupid, making the kind of mistake that makes people scream "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING" at the TV when they see it on the news later. But we all over-estimate our own safety quite often, so how are we to judge? Instead of imagining what could possibly happen at the rodeo, the county fair, the professional shooting tournament, we just count on one hand the times we've ever felt in danger there, and if the number is low we just go and have fun and try not to think to hard about it.

When I was in middle school my dad got me a job painting targets at a pistol range. Between shooters I'd trot out across the gravel pit with a bucket of white paint and cover over the dark spots so the next guy would have a clean target (important for scoring purposes). Dad always made sure I was outfitted with ear and eye protection, as is the custom of these places. They are fanatical about safety. Even so, I remember one day when I heard a funny pop and felt something graze my kneecap. A copper casing had exploded and sent bits of shrapnel flying out in all directions. There was a little blood, I figured it was no big deal -- I didn't even tell my dad. A week later I noticed metal glinting there, poking through the healed skin, and with a great deal of effort I managed to extract a piece of copper over a quarter inch long, warped into curving hooked edges by the heat and force. Now I look back and wonder, what if it had hit me in the face or neck? What if I had been there in the house the night my dad's friend accidentally shot himself through the thigh, sending a ricochet through the house that was never even found? What if I had kept playing with the mercury dad kept barely hidden in the cupboard for gun-cleaning purposes? What if, what if.

Dad assumed I was safe because he assumed he was safe. He was right often enough, I guess. But when I read stories like this, I really wonder how any but the most sheltered of us ever make it to middle age.
posted by hermitosis at 9:45 PM on August 16, 2010 [50 favorites]


So bad. I was spectator at Pike's Peak Hill Climb but nothing with stakes like this.

.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:50 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if his daughter hadn't been there, he probably would have done it for someone else he cared about, too -- of the others he saved, one was his girlfriend and one was an older child.

Either way, he still gave his life to save others.

.
posted by Madamina at 9:54 PM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Damn.

.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:04 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today I got into a car with another driver whose skill behind the wheel is substantially below mine and hurdled down a narrow highway with thousands of other drivers, of unknown skill levels and states of distraction, at 100km/h. Most times, I'd criticize people for standing so close to a race course, but today it's present in my mind that most of us do it every day without even thinking about it and still manage to judge people who are just friggin' unlucky.
posted by klanawa at 10:07 PM on August 16, 2010 [21 favorites]


Even if his daughter hadn't been there, he probably would have done it for someone else he cared about, too -- of the others he saved, one was his girlfriend and one was an older child.

Yeah, when Martin Bryant went on a shooting rampage at a tourist site in Tasmania, a significant proportion of the 30-odd victims were men who instinctively shielded their loved ones from the bullets. Things like this must happen so very quickly; it's heartening to think that the instinct to save others so often trumps self-preservation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:28 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hero? Huh? If this guy had taken his kids to sit on a busy runway and was squashed by a jumbo jet how many people would be calling him a hero for pushing the kids aside? We'd correctly be calling him a selfish moron who recklessly put his children in danger, nearly got them killed, and deprived them of their father. It wasn't simply a "bad idea" -- he put his three-year-old daughter inches away from heavy trucks racing on sand AT NIGHT. Come on, that's just idiotic.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:30 PM on August 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


If this guy had taken his kids to sit on a busy runway and was squashed by a jumbo jet how many people would be calling him a hero for pushing the kids aside? We'd correctly be calling him a selfish moron who recklessly put his children in danger, nearly got them killed, and deprived them of their father.

Good thing he didn't do that.
posted by setanor at 10:44 PM on August 16, 2010 [12 favorites]


how many people would be calling him a hero for pushing the kids aside? We'd correctly be calling him a selfish moron

These things are not mutually exclusive.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:54 PM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Come on, it's not worth arguing over labels for that guy. The video of the race at the beginning of the CNN report clearly shows that this was not the place to have a 3 year-old, especially near the path of any of those vehicles, at their speed, going over jumps, at night.
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:08 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


And he paid the ultimate price for it. But at least he made sure other people didn't.
posted by Malor at 11:14 PM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Most times, I'd criticize people for standing so close to a race course, but today it's present in my mind that most of us do it every day without even thinking about it and still manage to judge people who are just friggin' unlucky.

Yes, but that car you were in, along with most others on the road now, was deliberately designed to keep you alive and intact in such a scenario where your luck might run out.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 11:15 PM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to second klanawa's sentiment. True, races are dangerous places that put spectators within inches of hurtling machines weighing tons and capable of indescribable casualties, but then again, so are crosswalks.

If the family had been at a crosswalk at a regular intersection, mere paces away from the street, and an approaching vehicle had lost control, would the same judgment be applicable? The speed of the vehicle notwithstanding, proximity to danger would remain unchanged; considering vehicle weight against physiological capacity for damage, the difference in outcome between a vehicle traveling 35 MPH vs. 135 MPH may reduce the statistical likelihood of death, but does not reduce the likelihood of (grievous) injury.

Cars are heavy, move fast, and are capable of injuring people who are near them while they move. Do we need to punish or blame those who are nearby cars that go out of control? If the family had been at the fatal intersection because they were crossing the street to go to the Little Caesar's across the street, would it be sensible to blame the family's love for cheap pizza in the death of this man?
posted by Graygorey at 11:26 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


But when I read stories like this, I really wonder how any but the most sheltered of us ever make it to middle age.

Because any potential ancestors of ours that didn't survive far rougher upbringings than any we will ever know were removed from the breeding pool. If it seems like kids bounce back from injuries that would leave an adult in far worse shape, it's because nature has a genetic imperative to see those kids reach breeding age. Adults, on the other hand... well, you've had your chance.
posted by Ryvar at 11:38 PM on August 16, 2010


If the family had been at a crosswalk at a regular intersection, mere paces away from the street, and an approaching vehicle had lost control, would the same judgment be applicable?

No, because crossing the road at a regular intersection is part & parcel of everyday life. It would be almost impossible to live in a modern society without crossing roads on a very regular basis.

Willingly going out of your way to watch trucks hurtle over jumps at 135mph in the desert is adding an extra risk to your life that is completely unnecessary, and is only done for entertainment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:53 PM on August 16, 2010


If the family had been at the fatal intersection because they were crossing the street to go to the Little Caesar's across the street, would it be sensible to blame the family's love for cheap pizza in the death of this man?

Obviously, you have to balance risks and rewards in life. Near-zero physical risk would mean wearing protective gear 24 hours a day and staying on the family compound under medical supervision, but you would sacrifice a lot of your mental health and have no social life. Walking across a crosswalk in the normal course of events is the sort of physical risk we all have to take to carry on life as social human beings in a society that lets any fool get a car. Standing with your three-year-old daughter on the edge of a hilly dirt track while large bouncing trucks race by close enough to touch is way too far down the other end of the risk scale to make any sense.

So the "hero" talk is way off. It's a good thing his herd instincts and reflexes were strong, but he had all the time in the world to figure out that it wasn't a good idea to plant himself and his daughter on the edge of that track. He even had time to try it and realize that it was a stupid place to be. But apparently he tried it and decided it was exactly the right place for them to remain. In the end, his lizard brain was smarter than his human brain.
posted by pracowity at 11:56 PM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know a lot of people think that it's ridiculous to place a child in that position, and too dangerous to even think it's a good idea...but I'm curious about something. How often does this actually happen? I mean, what percentage of bystanders at races like this are actually injured or killed?

I'm guessing it's a fairly low number. Not to say that common sense wouldn't seem to indicate a different way to spend a day with a child to a lot of people, just that I can understand assuming it's safe if you've been going to these for a long time and nothing bad really seems to happen.

All that aside though, this is obviously a tragedy. You know what gets me most about stories like this though? I cannot imagine being in this position and doing the same thing. Not the heroic save-others-over-yourself thing. I get that. But he managed to push three others out of the way in the time it took for all that to go down? I guess I just can't visualize actually pulling that off. Makes the hero tag feel a bit more appropriate to me, since I imagine a cape and superspeed.

Apologies if it seems as i I'm making light of the situation. My condolences to the families.
posted by Stunt at 11:57 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Willingly going out of your way to watch trucks hurtle over jumps at 135mph in the desert is adding an extra risk to your life that is completely unnecessary, and is only done for entertainment.

Fair enough. Let's say that the family is waiting to cross the street to go to the local movie theater. In this case, waiting to cross the street is something done for the sake of entertainment, despite being "the sort of physical risk we all have to take to carry on life as social human beings in a society that lets any fool get a car" (UbuRoivas). Is it fair to qualify one source of entertainment (watching a truck race) over another (watching a movie), even if the outcome (being hit by a truck) remains the same?
posted by Graygorey at 12:18 AM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my book the word heroic applies to someone who dies for someone else.

Yes, he made a bad decision putting them at risk in the first place; no one is perfect. In the end, he saved people and lost his own life by doing so.

That is heroism.
posted by bwg at 12:22 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Carillon at 12:38 AM on August 17, 2010


.

Whole lot of just-world fallacy going on here. Show some respect.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:56 AM on August 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm a motorsport fan, and a mother, and conflicted.

No, I wouldn't take a 3 year old to that particular race. But I regularly drive my kids to Sydney down a highway that has white crosses and flowers every few kilometres, where people have lost their lives in vehicle accidents. I can't see that there is much difference in the risk factor.

What impresses me is that he selflessly shoved others out of the way of the imminent impact. I suspect that more selfish people would have scooped up their own child and bolted.

I think I would be proud to have known someone like him.

.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:59 AM on August 17, 2010


Fair enough. [...] Is it fair to qualify one source of entertainment (watching a truck race) over another (watching a movie), even if the outcome (being hit by a truck) remains the same?

You mixed up the attribution.

And there's a significant and measurable difference between the risk you take crossing a city street to go to a movie and the risk you take standing on the edge of a dirt track while trucks bounce by.

The crosswalk offers a smooth road with a predictable pattern, a reasonable speed limit, a place marked for crossing so drivers know you might be crossing exactly at that point, and a traffic light or a sign to stop traffic for you. After traffic comes to a halt, you look both ways and then cross. You then go into a safe building and stay there for an hour or two. And no one with an ounce of sense stands their kid close enough to the street, even at a nice predictable crosswalk, to touch the passing traffic.

At the truck race described in the articles, the risk appears to be a large part of the entertainment. The risk is elevated and continuous. By design, events are unpredictable. People at this race reportedly were standing within touching distance of passing trucks.

To make a movie trip comparably dangerous, you would have eliminate the traffic signals, eliminate the speed limit, eliminate the crossing markings, and fuck up the road bed so that passing vehicles had a difficult time maintaining a straight line and keeping all four wheels on the ground. And you wouldn't cross the street and go into the safe theater; you would sit outside on the edge of the street and watch the movie on an outdoor screen while the crazy traffic constantly bounce by at high speed within touching distance.
posted by pracowity at 1:01 AM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


In my book the word heroic applies to someone who dies for someone else.

That definition is in my book as well.

Risk is not a right or wrong. Risk has to be weighed against benefits. The father clearly wanted his daughter to experience as much of life as possible, even such experiences that would be denied to most because of the risk. It is hard to condemn him for that. But sometimes when you take a risk you don't get the benefit, instead you have to pay the penalty. In this case, the father was able to sacrifice himself to spare those he loved the penalty.

He accepted the consequences of his actions. This is something so rare nowadays he should be called a hero just for that.
posted by chemoboy at 1:20 AM on August 17, 2010


Suppose he had done everything exactly the same way -- same place in the crowd for him and his daughter, same effort to push her and others out of the way, etc. -- but say the truck had bounced slightly differently so that, despite his effort, his daughter and others were squashed while he walked away. The situation is the same. His intent is the same. His effort is the same. Nothing about the guy is different. But the result, through no fault of his own, is different. Do we put his picture on the front page with "Hero" in the caption?
posted by pracowity at 1:46 AM on August 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


We subject our children to risky behavior all the time. Plenty of parents take their kids to the pool, lakes, or ocean even though drownings happen despite safety precautions we put into place. The same could be said for animal attack. Looking at the raw numbers, I fear there are far more fatalities percentage based for those who swim versus those who go to these race tracks. The big difference is that most of the people get swimming or going into nature and therefore the risks seem worth it. Many do not get watching racetracks so of course it seems senseless to them as they wouldn't go even if there wasn't a risk of grievous bodily harm.

There's nothing lizard brain or herd instinct about this and you do this man a remarkable disservice to dismiss him as such. It's a tragedy, true, and perhaps one that could have been prevented (maybe this will help make tracks safer), but it's not like he got his just desserts or anything.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:47 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


this dot is not for Therrien, whom I cannot judge nor condemn from this distance, but for the 3-year old who now has to grow up without a dad. a sad enough event no matter what the cause is

.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:48 AM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I see nothing heroic about having a three year old in such a dangerous area. Tragedy is the word for this event. People attacking the driver, as if he really had room for erroror or opportunity for correction?

Murphys law meets social Darwinism.
posted by buzzman at 2:01 AM on August 17, 2010


in these "normal folks suddenly rocketed to momentary fame by way of tragic accident and death" stories, i wish everyone would keep in mind that his friends, family, and one day his daughter, will be searching the internet for mentions of him. they will already come upon countless comment sections of awfulness and blaming and tsk-tsk'ing from people snug behind their monitors, but maybe we shouldn't be one of those cesspools, bean plating their horrific moment in the spotlight.
posted by nadawi at 2:04 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


by the way, per the comments on one the links in the FPP, i found the donation page set up for the injured and families of the deceased.

“FAST-Aid has full faith in the California Highway Patrol to do a complete and thorough investigation of this accident. Our role is not to assign blame or liability, but is strictly to do everything we can to be there to assist the casualties and their families in the aftermath of this tragedy. The off-road community is a tight-knit family and the positive response from this group of people has been overwhelming and humbling. We will continue to coordinate all of our resources to help comfort and provide assistance to those involved.” - President of FAST-Aid, Jared Tetzlaff
posted by nadawi at 2:06 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


maybe we shouldn't be one of those cesspools, bean plating their horrific moment in the spotlight.

Realistically, though, this is essentially a local news story that I think would probably normally be deleted from the front page, if it were not for the opportunity for people to discuss the heroism-versus-assumed-risk angle, not to mention just world fallacies.

Or have we started running obituary posts for each and every person who dies tragically, as long as there's some kind of backstory attached?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:42 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today I got into a car with another driver whose skill behind the wheel is substantially below mine and hurdled down a narrow highway with thousands of other drivers, of unknown skill levels and states of distraction, at 100km/h. Most times, I'd criticize people for standing so close to a race course
You'd be signifigantly safer in a car, going the same speed as these people as opposed to standing right next to the interstate on the sholder.

The fact of the matter is that ordinary driving is probably about the most dangerious thing we do on a daily basis. But even then: modern cars have tons of protection that you don't get just standing on the side of the road. Combine that with drivers who are pushing thing to the edge of saftey in a road race with lots of corners... Well, it's just not a safe situation. It's good that he saved his daughter, but he could have brought her to spectate from a greater distance.
the difference in outcome between a vehicle traveling 35 MPH vs. 135 MPH may reduce the statistical likelihood of death, but does not reduce the likelihood of (grievous) injury.

Cars are heavy, move fast, and are capable of injuring people who are near them while they move. Do we need to punish or blame those who are nearby cars that go out of control? If the family had been at the fatal intersection because they were crossing the street to go to the Little Caesar's across the street, would it be sensible to blame the family's love for cheap pizza in the death of this man?
That's completly ridiculous. I mean. completly ridiculous. Last I checked cars don't do jumps at city intersections. The big difference between 35mph and this race is that the drivers have way more control and ability to stop. So while getting hit by an out of control car at 35 and 135 would both suck, you're far more likely to encounter an out of control vehicle at a race like this then an intersection.

Also, was the car actually going 135? That seems kind of fast for that kind of racing.

---

Anyway, what happened to this guy was tragic. People have to make choices about risk and I get kind of annoyed about people who demand that everyone make the same choices as them.

But let's not kid ourselves here, what this guy did was risky, and much more dangerious then walking in front of stopped traffic at a crosswalk or driving to kindergarden.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course you bring your 3-year-old to a rally race when you're 22. When you're 22, you're invincible. Death is the last thing on your mind, and so it would never occur to you that there are hazards and dangers of bringing small children to such a thing. It's unfortunate that he lost his life, but at least he had the wherewithal to throw her to safety when there was actual danger at hand.
posted by crunchland at 5:03 AM on August 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know, I was thinking the exact same thing, crunchland, but couldn't put it into words in a way I liked. You don't really understand your own fragility until 30 or so. He was a very young man.
posted by Malor at 5:20 AM on August 17, 2010


When you're 22, you're invincible

Yes, I remember all the risky things I did thinking this was true. I was in invincible never-ever-gonna-die well past my 30s, up until the very moment I became a mother. I think had I become a mother at 18, I would have reacted the same way. It's like a switch turns in ones brain.
posted by dabitch at 5:20 AM on August 17, 2010


But let's not kid ourselves here, what this guy did was risky, and much more dangerious then walking in front of stopped traffic at a crosswalk or driving to kindergarden.

Give me the professional driver on a closed course over the texting soccer mom any day of the week.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:23 AM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heroes are not saints, nor do they always behave perfectly. It's not a binary role, where a person is either a hero or non hero, good or bad, smart or stupid. People are more complex than that. The insistence on defining someone through a narrow role is a failure of the viewer, a failure to recognize the width and breadth that single person is capable of.

Taking the kids to to the race was reckless, sure. But when faced with danger, he did the right thing and put his kid and others before himself and dammit that counts, it balances whatever scales there are to judge him by. No doubt he did stupid things in life, made mistakes, hurt people loved ones and behaved badly at times. None of that matters now, dead is dead and Andrew Therrien died saving others. We should all be so lucky to that action be our final one.

Rest easy Andrew, you earned it. Grow proud and strong Kaylin, knowing your father loved you so much that he did not hesitate to sacrifice his life for yours.
posted by nomadicink at 5:32 AM on August 17, 2010


Does anyone know how many race spectators were not killed last year? Can we get some numbers before we all decide that this guy knowingly put his kid into a really fucking dangerous situation?

How many of us have taken our kids to the beach, driven them on the backs of our bikes, taken them for a hike, had them in the back of the car while we answered a call, or did any number of things that had a slight chance of stuff going wrong?

This was a rare, random, tragic event, and while most of us (certainly not on Metafilter) would not be taking our kids to a motor sports event, we all live in a world where Shit Sometimes Happens.

Still though, please continue judging this dude if it'll make you feel better.
posted by bondcliff at 6:06 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, sometimes heroes are stupid. People who beahve stupidly are unthinking. Heroes often don't spend time assessing risk, either.

It's not great that he put his 3 year old kid in danger. But saving the lives of three others and not saving himself amply qualifies as heroism regardless of his prior actions.

I'm amazed at the criticism of this guy. Sure, he didn't pick a sensible place to stand, but who goes to watch a car rally and thinks they're going to get hit?
posted by MuffinMan at 6:06 AM on August 17, 2010


But when I read stories like this, I really wonder how any but the most sheltered of us ever make it to middle age.

Because of seat-belt and helmet laws, environmental lawyers, class-action lawsuits, etc.

Laws replace parents when you get past ~30 years old because people are way too stupid to protect themselves.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:15 AM on August 17, 2010


.
posted by Fizz at 6:18 AM on August 17, 2010


Anyway, what happened to this guy was tragic. People have to make choices about risk and I get kind of annoyed about people who demand that everyone make the same choices as them.

It is tragic. As in, "a tragedy." What's a tragedy? Most often, when something bad happens to someone (and often those around them) due to poor decisions. Othello is a tragedy. Hamlet is a tragedy. People dying in an earthquake or a tsunami? That's a catastrophe.

It sucks that the guy favored such a dangerous sport to spectate. It sucks that his daughter will grow up without a father. However, this was completely avoidable, and at the very least, it seems like no place for a 3-year-old. Blaming the victim? No. He didn't "deserve" this, it's certainly not the "obvious" outcome. But it's definitely a clear possibility and not a "who could have possibly foreseen this?" sort of thing.
posted by explosion at 6:31 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a very sad, sad story but on the flip side, what was he going to do? Let his daughter be a shield?
posted by stormpooper at 6:56 AM on August 17, 2010


I've come to the conclusion that my generation (millennials) has no respect for risk and danger.
posted by SirOmega at 7:42 AM on August 17, 2010


Was he really standing so close that they could touch the truck going by or was he a fair distance away when the truck swerved off course? Most children at that age are very scared by loud noises and the roar of those trucks is deafening.
posted by digsrus at 7:48 AM on August 17, 2010


He died doing what he loved.
posted by Eideteker at 8:06 AM on August 17, 2010


First, it's a tragedy and I feel for those families of those who died. The risk the spectators took does not negate the pain their loved ones feel.

I don't understand why the race organizer doesn't face charges or some kind of sanctions. They weren't even following their own rules in an inherently dangerous sport.
The BLM has said safety was the responsibility of the race organizer, South El Monte-based Mojave Desert Racing. MDR's permit required racers to travel 15 mph or less when they were within 50 feet of fans, and allowed no more than 300 spectators for the event, the agency said.
...
there were no plans to arrest Sloppy, who the CHP estimates was going 45 to 50 mph at the time of the crash.

Tens of thousands of people were spread out along the 50-mile track

(emphasis mine - source)
How on earth is it OK to have TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE at a venue that is only supposed to have 300? Four hundred, fine, a few slipped through the gate. But 9,700 extra people?
posted by desjardins at 8:11 AM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a horribly ironic name for that driver.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2010


"What a horribly ironic name for that driver."

At least Mario Lopez is still working. Things have been rough for him since 28 Day Slater.

I still say it beats dying in bed, unable to handle your own waste or recognize your loved ones.
posted by Eideteker at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sucks that the guy favored such a dangerous sport to spectate. It sucks that his daughter will grow up without a father. However, this was completely avoidable, and at the very least, it seems like no place for a 3-year-old. Blaming the victim? No. He didn't "deserve" this, it's certainly not the "obvious" outcome. But it's definitely a clear possibility and not a "who could have possibly foreseen this?" sort of thing.

Once again, I feel the same could be said of a swimming death.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:42 AM on August 17, 2010


"Four hundred, fine, a few slipped through the gate. But 9,700 extra people?"

There's no gate at an event like this. It's federal public land, and it's always a bit murky as to who exactly is allowed to be there and when. 10000 is certainly ridiculous though; I used to be involved in throwing a lot of free all night parties on similar land (hell, might even be the same land, I haven't checked where that race was, but we used to have motorcycle races show up every once in a while). Of course, since we were sitting in one place with maybe a few hundred people and dancing, instead of hurtling through the desert at high speed running over plants and animals, we needed MUCH more scrutiny. I can't even imagine what would happen if 5000, let alone 10000, showed up for a party. Well, I can. Cops. Lots and lots of cops. In riot gear, with wagons. And helicopters.

Anyway.. the point is that they can't keep people out. They just harass you for having more than they think they should, or something things they think you shouldn't (they were usually wrong about whether we were legally allowed to do what we were doing - all tickets we ever fought in court we won, but they have the guns). But they're very friendly to off-road racing, so they look the other way, and that's what everyone is used to.
posted by flaterik at 8:45 AM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is terrible. I cannot even fathom how events like this are legal.

I live in Australia, where you need a license for fireworks. A few years ago a marshall at the Melbourne Grand Prix was killed in freak accident when a tyre flew off a car & through a ridiculously small gap in the barriers. The previously tight regulations were tightened even further.
Maybe the older I get the more I morph into my grandmother but this situation just seems like an accident waiting to happen and I find it hard to believe that it's even legal to run these events.
posted by goshling at 8:47 AM on August 17, 2010


One of my favourite memories of when I finally got to meet my Nephew this summer was driving down the highway with my Brother's family in their fancy van and my nephew suddenly repeatedly screaming "I'm not buckled in!" with total glee fueled by the perceived danger, the wild unbuckled freedom and the awesomeness of catching his parents in a mistake.

Turns out in all the commotion of the Aunt and Uncle visiting and disturbing the vehicle setup routine, Justin had gone unbuckled. Mistakes happen and they happen to parents a lot because parents are on the job all the time. So if something had happened before Justin noticed and the oversight was corrected would there be harsh condemnation from others for my family? Would you judge?

It's tragic this happened at a dangerous race but it could have happened at a Farmers Market or a Santa Claus Parade as well. These things have also happened at proper race tracks with safety barriers and fences.

I understand the impulse to blame and to say "It couldn't happen to me because I wouldn't do that" comes from the sheer terror that it all too possibly could happen to you but don't let your terror management override your human compassion and even more importantly don't stampede the herd to make the same terror driven moral condemnations because they will and that just makes things even more tragic.
posted by srboisvert at 8:48 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of a story that Joseph Campbell told in his interview with Bill Moyers on the Power of Myth. Paraphrasing from memory here:

So there was this guy on a bridge who wants to jump, but a cop comes to talk him down. Eventually the guy starts to fall (I think he jumped) and the cop reaches out, grabs the guy, and in the process is millimeters from falling himself.

When asked how he could risk his life for the suicidal man, the cop replied, "How could I *NOT* do it?"

(IIRC, Campbell takes this to mean that when in a moment like that we break down the "otherness" we usually experience and realize we are all one)

I think there is something inside us-- metaphysical, spiritual, biomechanical, whatever-- that triggers the act of sacrifice of the self to help others.
posted by imneuromancer at 9:25 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems to me they we a lot closer to the track this year than last.
posted by atomicmedia at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh my god, I couldn't even watch that first video you linked it felt too close.

also, .
posted by dabitch at 10:06 AM on August 17, 2010


Where was it that an elderly driver plowed into a fair or a marketplace and killed a bunch of people? I want to say Washington (state) but that doesn't seem quite right. It was in the last several years.
posted by desjardins at 11:24 AM on August 17, 2010


Santa Monica farmer's market
posted by flaterik at 11:27 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


To make a movie trip comparably dangerous, you would have eliminate the traffic signals, eliminate the speed limit, eliminate the crossing markings, and fuck up the road bed so that passing vehicles had a difficult time maintaining a straight line and keeping all four wheels on the ground.

paradoxically, this would probably make the roadway more safe, not less. Traffic engineers are now leaning more toward de-controlling areas shared by vehicles and pedestrians because every additional factor that exists to cause the motorist discomfort tends to make him/her drive more slowly - advantage: pedestrian.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:19 PM on August 17, 2010


This is terrible. I cannot even fathom how events like this are legal.

You are as likely, if not MORE likely, to be killed driving *to* a motor sports event than watching as a spectator. Many tens of millions of people go to race tracks every year, averaging a maybe a hundred miles driven per person. That's many hundreds of millions of miles of travel. We average 1.26 deaths per 100 million miles driven. Do the math.

This is big news is because it's a freak accident. No one would give the story a second glance if it were one of the hundred deaths PER DAY that happen on our public roads.

All accidents are entirely predictable in retrospect.
posted by pjaust at 1:21 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once again, I feel the same could be said of a swimming death.

Or a surfing death, like the father of two who was killed by a great white shark south of Perth just the other day.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:41 PM on August 17, 2010


We had a MeFi meetup at a beach not 24 hours before sharks were spotted in the waters. It could have been me.
posted by jessamyn at 5:00 PM on August 17, 2010


Not likely. With your experience of internet memes, you would've instinctively known every precise detail on how to jump a shark.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if those expressing disgust that he took his daughter there in the first place would be the same if Therrien had been killed in a car crash on the way home.

Accidents happen. Just like this happened. (And that was extensively promoted by the then-ACT government as a fun event for families.)

People occasionally are killed doing fun stuff. Would you rather the parents stay at home and never take their kids anywhere?

Wrapping them in cotton wool doesn't teach them to go out and grab life by the balls, I reckon. And I'd rather have kids who grab life by the balls and make the most of every moment, than kids who are terrified of going outside the house because you never know when that satellite will fall from the sky and land on you.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:39 PM on August 17, 2010


That might depend on whether the daughter even wanted to be there in the first place, as opposed to, say, visiting a pony farm or playing with her Malibu Stacey dolls.

Maybe I'm stereotyping, but a monster truck rally in the desert doesn't sound to me much like the kind of thing a typical 3yo girl would be into.

A 3yo boy, maybe, but even then I think the kid would be a bit too young to have any strong opinion on it, and even if he liked the monster trucks, he'd be equally diverted by one of those teensy merry-go-round things they have in the shopping malls, with little cars & trucks for him to sit in while the ride plays a particularly wow-and-fluttered instrumental version of some song by The Wiggles.

Far more likely, the dad was there because it was *his* idea of a good time, and the daughter was just dragged along for the ride.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:42 PM on August 17, 2010


This guy was dangling his child over circling sharks. But he's a "hero" because he yanked the kid away just before the shark came to eat her.

There's better ways to show children sharks.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:55 PM on August 17, 2010


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