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It's actually not a good day to die.
September 13, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

An amazing video compilation of narrow escapes from death (via)
posted by desjardins (123 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
As impressive as the survivals themselves is the utter nonchalance some of these guys show in the aftermath. I'd say the best is the two-train survival jump ~ 5:30.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:31 PM on September 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well, that was stressful. What's with people being fucking idiots around trains?
posted by cmoj at 2:36 PM on September 13, 2010 [25 favorites]


Prediction: this will not be as controversial as "Faces of Death".
posted by chavenet at 2:38 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guy laying down on the train track about 1:40 in... what a colossal moron. Also, I'll never understand rally fans who stand on the apex of a bend.
posted by afx237vi at 2:38 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously. They show that one place at least twice, with cars trying to navigate around the railroad crossing. The train was like only 100 feet long, you're saving, what, 4 seconds?
posted by King Bee at 2:39 PM on September 13, 2010


Four rescue works turn to two at 8:34. Not lucky for everyone.

The only accident in most of those train clips seems to be just poor timing (when judging the location of the train). Not dying when jumping in front of trains or lying between tracks seems more like a bug than a feature.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 2:39 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can appreciate the genuine near-misses, but the fucking idiots who are playing with their lives don't need any more attention. I can just imaging the guys who dreamed of being locomotive engineers when they were kids, never realizing they would be facing the grim reality of people throwing themselves in front of your trains with disturbing regularity.
posted by tmt at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


This post somehow reaffirms my hatred of cars and my love of trains.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The one that bothers me the most is the one at 4:01. That guy is looking straight at the train and he just holds steady and then whips around for the away shot. It's like he was set up there on purpose. Well, that and the next one.
posted by DaddyNewt at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2010


I'd say the best is the two-train survival jump ~ 5:30.

Agreed. Somebody at the office must have gotten chewed out for that one.

I have to say, I am amazed at the number of clips that are a result of people deliberately screwing around on train tracks. The guys who are planning to cross just in front of trains, trip, and then barely make it are particularly idiotic. The cars breaking the rules at level crossings are right up there, too - how many times do you have to read about some idiot dying this way to make you realize it's not a good idea?

Also, WTF is it with people driving, sometimes backwards, into cops stopped at the side of the road? I mean, seriously, how hard is it to just drive straight on a highway?
posted by Dasein at 2:41 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Some remarkable footage, but I wish they didn't use some of the footage of people deliberately being numbskulls (guy laying on the tracks, people jumping in front trains or seeing how long they can stand on the tracks before jumping). These days there's no shortage of accidental close calls caught on film that you need to reward the attention seeking morons.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:41 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


This one here touched me.

He is purebred photographer.

Photog: "Well, I nearly lost my life, just now. This really puts a new perspective on things... makes me think about what's important. I will call my wife and tell her I love her. I should take a picture of the wreckage... shutter looks ok. DAMN, I WISH I WOULD HAVE SNAPPED IT WHEN IT WAS COMING AT ME."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:43 PM on September 13, 2010 [33 favorites]


We should probably note that while many of these show people surviving accidents, it's likely that unseen people were dying in them -- especially the car crashes. This is really a mind-blowing collection of near-misses, but I'd be very surprised if this isn't a document of somebody else's death as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:45 PM on September 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow, great video. The number of people who glance over and then manage to jump out of the way with no more than a second's warning is impressive. I was also impressed by the guy who got stuck between the train gates, and managed to pull his SUV exactly far up enough to squeak by the train (but come on, it's a train! Just drive through the little gate!)

Also, it looks like policemen's hats and yellow reflective vests are +2 DEX!
posted by vorfeed at 2:46 PM on September 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


Alcohol is a hell of a drug.
posted by mrnutty at 2:51 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


People and trains just don't mix. I think it's because, deep down inside, we're not that much different from dipshit little squirrels.

In Irvine, Calif., on the city's main thoroughfare, there's a train overpass -- the train goes over the street.

This crossing used to be at street level, with your standard, plain-jane train crossing gates. In the mid-80s, a woman was famously killed when she became stuck in her car in stop-and-go traffic that crossed the railroad tracks. Rather than get out of the car and run for it, she attempted to first roll her car forward and push the car in front of hers out of the way, then hit reverse and tried the same thing with the car behind her.

That, and other minor incidents, led the city to tunnel the street under the existing railroad track.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:56 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The train ones make me so fucking angry. Assholes. Whether it's the douchebag kids on dares or the douchebag car drivers who just can't wait an extra minute. Grrr.
posted by maxwelton at 2:56 PM on September 13, 2010


Offtopic: the drunk person falling off the subway platform reminds me of a great article about subway jumpers in Toronto and how they try to stop accidents like that one.
posted by acheekymonkey at 2:58 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Great list of links, but don't forget to play the emulated game in JavaScript.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2010


ts;cw
(Too scary; couldn't watch.)
posted by ottereroticist at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


After watching that I can only come to the conclusion that the side of the road is the most dangerous place to be standing. I'm walking down the middle of the road from now on.
posted by Lokisbane at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That double-train one looks fake.

I was expecting some footage from the NASCAR stands, car pieces whipping by at 185 mph, or golf spectators coming this close to getting beaned with a driver.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:05 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The train ones make me so fucking angry. Assholes.

for real. I could be wrong, but I believe I heard somewhere that train drivers are trained not to break suddenly for stuff like that, because the risk of derailing the train and killing even more people is too great. That said, it's reasonable to think that someone might freak the fuck out and slam on the train breaks anyway and possibly kill a whole LOAD of people. Being a train conductor has to be insanely stressful if people are doing shit like this.
posted by shmegegge at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, WTF is it with people driving, sometimes backwards, into cops stopped at the side of the road? I mean, seriously, how hard is it to just drive straight on a highway?

Those kinds of accidents are invariably caused by people slowing down suddenly either on seeing the cop at the last minute or just slowing to have a look - someone further back isn't paying attention and either they (or the person behind them who can't see anyway) suddenly has to slam on their brakes and panic ensues.

Basically, it's an accident caused by rank stupidity, lack of attention or both. Don't brake for cops by the side of the road, people. If they're that close to you you've either already been pegged for speeding, or they're doing something else. Just drive on and pay more attention.
posted by Brockles at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched it all.
I did not enjoy it.
posted by The Discredited Ape at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, if you're wondering, guy-intentionally-lying-down-on-the-tracks-so-the-train-will-pass-over-you, the conductor has no fucking way of knowing if you survived that and may in fact spend the rest of his life ridden with the anxiety and guilt of thinking he may have killed someone. way to go, daredevil.
posted by shmegegge at 3:11 PM on September 13, 2010 [17 favorites]


Well, that was stressful. What's with people being fucking idiots around trains?

While no one was harmed those were 'dick moves.' While not full-blown trauma such antics are likely not easy on the train crew.
Death on the tracks...trauma of suicides may never go away.

Rail suicides anything but painless for train crews.

A strategy for trauma debriefing after railway suicides.
posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is why cats invented tongue-baths.
posted by LordSludge at 3:17 PM on September 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Last time I was stopped on a highway, the cop walked around to the passenger side. I don't know why they don't all do this.
posted by desjardins at 3:18 PM on September 13, 2010


I keep oscillating back and forth between "Holy crap! Run! Get out of the WAY!" and "You fucking idiot! Why would you do that?!"

On the whole I'm not liking what this video is doing to my tension levels.
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


10 PRINT "YOU IDIOT!"
20 PRINT "YOU LUCKY BASTARD!"
30 GOTO 10
posted by Wataki at 3:22 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


My heart is racing. I think that might be a bad thing.
posted by RedEmma at 3:23 PM on September 13, 2010


Brockles : Those kinds of accidents are invariably caused by people slowing down suddenly either on seeing the cop at the last minute or just slowing to have a look

There is a word for these people. I call them "The Enemy".

And I hate them with all the force my heart can muster; if it were possible for rage to be converted into some sort of thermal energy, their cars would explode merely by my gaze.
posted by quin at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2010


Last time I was stopped on a highway, the cop walked around to the passenger side. I don't know why they don't all do this.

I think a lot do; although you can see in some of those clips that such a strategy won't always help.
posted by mrnutty at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2010


Also, does this mean Les Assassins des Fauteuils Roulants actually exist? I had no idea.
posted by RedEmma at 3:28 PM on September 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


I've written about this before here on the blue:

Here's the long and short of it:

DON'T FUCK AROUND WITH TRAINS.

It's an incredibly dickish thing to do to the people whose job it is to try and move the train safely from point A to point B, and who have already seen more of this than some Jackass-style youtube video will ever show you. Imagine being the guy who's spent a few months on disability because of stress from a fatal accident, and some asshole starts playing these games.

Mods, I think this is not a good subject for Metafilter, and me personally, and have flagged it. I'll discuss it personally if you wish.
posted by pjern at 3:31 PM on September 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


that was a great video on near misses, like the scene watching a road race, do they have the video of the spectators watching too close in the baja road race this year , when a bunch got killed, not near misses!
posted by tustinrick at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2010


While not full-blown trauma such antics are likely not easy on the train crew.

Watching someone die (or thinking you're about to watch someone die) a violent death is a trauma, in the psychological sense. It's "full-blown" trauma. Period, the end.

Especially prone to fucking people up is the whole powerless-to-stop-it mixed with the perception that you're somehow responsible.

Even better, these people's livlihoods count on them doing the same thing that lead to the trauma, over and over and over again.

So congrats to the people whose asshole pranks could result in someone developing PTSD.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:35 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


No aeroplanes! I wanted crashing aeroplanes!
posted by Biru at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2010


Disappointing, I half expected the train operator in the very last clip to hop out and start beating the crap out of the guy lying down on the tracks.
posted by christopherious at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2010


pjern, it might not be a good subject for you on Metafilter. I recommend you don't click on links entitled "narrow escapes from death". For my part, I liked it. I especially liked the parts where people didn't die.
posted by found missing at 3:37 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also agreed that this is not a good video.

First, WTF to the upbeat music like this is some sort of action movie and even if it were an action movie, it's edited in a really annoying way and I would turn it off about 15 seconds in, like I did with this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:38 PM on September 13, 2010


"WTF is it with people driving, sometimes backwards, into cops stopped at the side of the road? I mean, seriously, how hard is it to just drive straight on a highway"

Two inattentive drivers come across a cop car with flashing lights on the side of the road. The first slams his brakes on. The second swerves to avoid the first and slams his brakes on causing him to slam mostly head first into the meridian jersey barrier and then, the first law being what it is, continues down the freeway backwards. Some times they just spin out with the same result.

Having seen a motorist slam into a cop car which was at the scene of an accident where there were at least a dozen cruisers, fire trucks, ambulances, and two tow trucks all with lights flashing people missing a single cruiser on the side of the road doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by Mitheral at 3:38 PM on September 13, 2010


I think this cartoon needs to be updated with "trains" for "cat" and "totally selfish and morally tone-deaf fuckwittedness" for "inanity of statements."
posted by maudlin at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2010


Regarding people driving into cops on the roadside; I just finished taking a "Scene Safety" course which teaches first responders (Law Enforcement and Fire/Rescue) how to park at a highway incident, how to set up traffic diversions etc. Most US states are adopting measures that require motorists to either move over one lane or to slow to 20 mph under the speed limit when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights on. When we get to an accident, we park the biggest piece of apparatus we've got sideways across the affected lane plus one more for working space, cops don't generally have that luxury.
posted by Standeck at 3:41 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I recommend you don't click on links entitled "narrow escapes from death

I didn't: I got more than I need to know from the context here in the comments.
posted by pjern at 3:42 PM on September 13, 2010


Kewl, then the next step is to move on.
posted by found missing at 3:43 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Meeeehtahfiltah.
posted by loquacious at 3:45 PM on September 13, 2010


utter nonchalance some of these guys show in the aftermath

We don't see much aftermath in most cases, so that might be the effect of adrenalin. Having had a few narrow escapes from death myself*, I remember being completely on top of the situation immediately afterwards and for as long as it took to get past the immediate safety issue - so much so that I recall overhearing bystanders express their surprise on two different occasions.

Once the emergency is over, though, I get the same gut-churning and uncontrollable shaking as anyone else. Sometimes that's a minute or two later, sometimes a few hours. It's familiar enough that I only watched half the video; fatally stupid behavior that I can't exert any control over makes me feel ill, and the fact that none of them actually die is no help.

* none due to pulling any dick moves, I'm glad to say
posted by anigbrowl at 3:47 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


That poor little boy at 3:06! Amazing that he just got up and walked away considering the car knocked him through the air like it did.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't been pulled over in awhile, but the last time (for tags I had forgotten to renew) I was in a relatively safe place on the interstate to do so. But I've often wondered if cops want you to PULL OVER RIGHT NOW OR YOU ARE FLEEING or would prefer you continue on until you're in a safe place for everyone. I would assume the latter, but also don't want to be tazed.
posted by maxwelton at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2010


Mods, I think this is not a good subject for Metafilter, and me personally, and have flagged it. I'll discuss it personally if you wish.

...so your personal response to this thread affects the rest of us why exactly?

Also, the very first clip was debunked as fake a few weeks ago. Two vids from the same camera double-exposed.
posted by Epenthesis at 3:49 PM on September 13, 2010


The train guys reminded me of two things, very quickly -

This - I was unable to find any links with a description of the artist's intent, but it is essentially a "plan" to put the face of Thomas the Tank Engine on the front of trains to keep people from committing suicide by jumping in front of them



And this, which is self-explanatory.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:50 PM on September 13, 2010


@maxwelton: I recall reading or being told that if it's really not safe where you are to merge right, roll down your window and signal to the officer with a thumbs-up and then a pointing toward the side that you're aware you need to pull over and will do so as soon as possible. But I cannot find that source, so, you know, as always, proceed with caution.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:00 PM on September 13, 2010


Last time I was stopped on a highway, the cop walked around to the passenger side. I don't know why they don't all do this.

and

But I've often wondered if cops want you to PULL OVER RIGHT NOW OR YOU ARE FLEEING or would prefer you continue on until you're in a safe place for everyone. I would assume the latter, but also don't want to be tazed.

Personally, I haven't been pulled over on a highway in as long as I can remember, but unless I'm mistaken the ideal thing to do is to put on your hazards as acknowledgement, slow down to the speed limit, keep to the right lane, and take the next exit or pullout.
posted by davejay at 4:04 PM on September 13, 2010


Oh, and crack your windows, so that if they do want you to pull over now you'll hear them say so on the loudspeaker. Here in Los Angeles, the pullovers I've witnessed often involve the loudspeaker, with the officer directing the driver to pull off at the next exit.
posted by davejay at 4:06 PM on September 13, 2010


I take the train to and from work. The way it's set up, going from work one has to cross the tracks on foot and then wait on the platform. It's frequently the case that people come late, are walking towards the platform when the train comes. Then they run and dash in front of the train. If they cross within a hundred yards of the train, the engineer honks the horn. Sometimes they really cut it close, and the engineer screams at them over the intercom, or even tasks the conductors with finding the offending party and kicking them off the train. The amazing thing is that this is a somewhat regular occurrence. A significant fraction of people are willing to run in front of a train to make sure they aren't late getting home.
posted by Humanzee at 4:09 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope the post stays precisely because I think it's better for people who haven't thought about the PTSD angle to be exposed to that criticism here. I'd never mess around with a train or anything because of the danger, but I'd never thought about how the train workers must feel when people do.
posted by Nattie at 4:09 PM on September 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


This video is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Also I didn't know Trent Reznor and his new wife started a band where he plays Nine Inch Nails beats and she sings exactly like Trent Reznor.
posted by dgaicun at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


so your personal response to this thread affects the rest of us why exactly?

Because I was the guy on the engine once, and watched people die under my wheels, and I think it would be nice if people would occasionally take other people's sensibilities into account, rather than using videos of stressful and hurtful (to some folks) events for puerile entertainment.
posted by pjern at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


Props to the corner worker in the second clip, he did exactly the right thing, using the tree as a shield, and then running up to help the driver in the crashed car. Notice that he was already placed to take advantage of it, just adjusted his position to respond the the immediate threat.

I've seen a lot of stupidity around rail crossings. I grew up in a place without trains, so when I moved to where they were common, I was amazed at how nonchalant people were about the possibility of several hundred tons of steel barreling into them.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:29 PM on September 13, 2010


I agree with Nattie; it's something I'd never thought of, that the train operators might be traumatized by being used as the weapon with which a person kills themselves. I guess because trains are so big and full of personality (of a sort), it's easy for my brain to skim over the fact that there's a person controlling it, that it's not just a big Optimus-Prime-type organism.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2010


Look at all this train talk.

Could this video really just be... clever viral marketing for that No Brakes on a Train movie?
posted by dgaicun at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2010


The last clip was even more dangerous than it appears. Third rail dangerous.

WBUR.
posted by ifandonlyif at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2010


God, I never knew that there was some monumentally stupid cult of train-jumpers out there not only doing this shit, but filming themselves doing it.

That said, some stories!

1.) When my parents had just started dating, my dad was in Houston picking up my mom from her parents' place, in Conroe. This is a heavily wooded area and was largely undeveloped in the sixties. Also, apparently is was dark as hell at night. My dad gets to this one train crossing along the way. The lights and bells are flashing, but there are no cross beams, so he stops and waits. He can hear what seems to be the distant sound of a train.

And he waits. And waits. And waits for what seems like forever. And the train doesn't sound like it's getting any closer. And he can't see anything because of all the trees.

Finally, because he doesn't want to be too late, he guns it across the tracks, and immediately hears a train whistle and sees the front-lights of the engine maybe ten or twenty yards away. Because he's immediately thrown into panic mode, he slams on his brakes.

The train was stopped - the conductor was just fucking with him.

2.) Years ago I'm working on a shoot in Queens, and I'm driving the director around while we're doing our location scouting in the beginning. There had been a heavy snowfall the previous day, and Queens Boulevard has, for some reason, a wrought-iron barrier between the different directional lanes. While I'm driving him around, and simultaneously having a conversation which is taking a good amount of my brain activity (because I'm trying to impress the director) the Escalade in front of me skids up the curb, catches on the barrier, and goes end-over-end. I calmly change lanes around it and change lanes back, while continuing to explain whatever the hell I was talking about, and when I'm finished, simply ask, "Wait. Did what I think just happened just happen?"

"Yes," replies the visibly and audibly shaken director. Somehow my brain had registered it at the time just as if the Escalade had thrown it's brakes on and I didn't have the time or patience to deal with it.

3.) Also years ago, my parents are having some friends of theirs over for a week or so at the house in Crested Butte. These friends, Barb and Elsie, don't know each other, but Barb tells a story about when she was in Colorado in the late seventies, driving through the mountains when she was struck by an out-of-control green Cutlass. The cops come to the scene of the accident, and while they're processing everything, Barb's car gets hit by a second out-of-control green Cutlass.

Elsie goes completely white. "I was the second green Cutlass."

"I'm so sorry, she continues, but I could barely steer, and I figured that if I hit the coips I was done-for, so I aimed for you."

Weird, weird shit can happen. But the train people try to make it happen, so fuck them. I'm an adrenaline-junkie too, but don't involve other people in your potentially traumatizing hobby, please.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


Also, pjern, I sympathize, but I think you'll find the people in this thread are agreeing with you that this train shit shouldn't be done.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:44 PM on September 13, 2010


shmegegge: "... I heard somewhere that train drivers are trained not to break suddenly for stuff like that ...

I see what you did there.

On topic, people take chances with trains because trains move with deceptive speed; that is the farther away they are, the slower they appear to be moving. They only realise too late when the train is very close that it is actually hurtling along at 50mph, and then they are dead because they took too long to react.

Then again, assholes playing jackass with trains need to stop because they are causing massive stress on engineers.
posted by bwg at 4:46 PM on September 13, 2010


I'm a skeptic, as are you, probably, being on the blue, but I've had two near-death experiences (involving cars) and both of them were presaged by precognitive experiences. The only two precognitive experiences I've had, as far as I know. These have made me a little less skeptical about psychic claims, the plasticity of time/space, and other woo-woo phenomenon. Not that I go around looking for instances of synchronicity to validate my own belief system, but it seems as though these two visions saved my life. I don't know what to make of it, frankly.
posted by kozad at 4:53 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A significant fraction of people are willing to run in front of a train to make sure they aren't late getting home.

A partner who is a wonderful cook can be a blessing and a curse.
posted by gilrain at 4:55 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe this is the story of the person stumbling onto on the subway tracks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:59 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is an amazing visual catalogue of all the reasons that I never go anywhere or do anything. It's great that these people escaped with their lives but sometimes you just want to be hit by a bus, y'know?
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:00 PM on September 13, 2010


both of them were presaged by precognitive experiences.

I will only say that you, being on the blue, have probably read several articles on how inaccurate our memories are. Even or especially the ultra-clear memories that surround emotional events.

Just a thought from one skeptic to another. :)
posted by gilrain at 5:07 PM on September 13, 2010


Watching this, I'm also reminded that the human eye/brain combo has trouble parsing the size and speed of large objects, aka the Leibowitz Hypothesis. In the video, watch how the train seems to increase its speed as it approaches. It's especially noticeable about the :13 second mark.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:16 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


A significant fraction of people are willing to run in front of a train to make sure they aren't late getting home.

I used to live very near a major rail route with a level crossing maybe a hundred yards from home. And man, some of the trains were long, and I was young and not entirely wise. So yeah, more than one last second run was taken (both in a vehicle and on foot) with no damage or injury to report. But I will now apologize now to any and all for being an idiot.
posted by philip-random at 5:26 PM on September 13, 2010


I see what you did there.

what did I do? I was being totally sincere. It is a thing I heard, I think, but I can't remember where or what the circumstances were and I might have imagined it.
posted by shmegegge at 5:28 PM on September 13, 2010


"trained not to break" != "trained not to brake"
posted by crawl at 5:30 PM on September 13, 2010


I heard somewhere that train drivers are trained not to break suddenly for stuff like that, because the risk of derailing the train and killing even more people is too great.

OK, this is wrong. For one thing, trains do have emergency brakes. But for another, unless that train is moving 5mph putting together a consist in a yard, by the time the engineer sees you it is too late to stop the train. It's not the physics of derailing. It's the physical impossibility of stopping (say) 50 cars of cargo weighing up to one hundred tons each. Suddenly or not, you ain't stopping that shit no matter what you see on the tracks.

pjern, did you know my brother is an engineer for CP?
posted by dhartung at 5:35 PM on September 13, 2010


AHHHHH! GOD DAMN IT

MOTHERFUCKING STUPID BRAIN
posted by shmegegge at 5:46 PM on September 13, 2010


This post somehow reaffirms my love of the internet.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 5:51 PM on September 13, 2010


I used to work around trains as a surveyor, and I remember them telling us new guys specifically that, amazing as it seems, a 70 mph passenger train can sneak up on you when you're not paying attention. I never found out if this is really true, but they move faster than expected, and you often don't hear them coming.
posted by sneebler at 5:57 PM on September 13, 2010


Once, on the way home after a very late night out, I was exhausted. I came to a red light downtown, and there wasn't a soul in sight - it was about 4 a.m. I was beat, and just out of the sheer ability to do so, since there was nobody else on the street, and being so, so tired, I decided that when the light turned green, I would just sit there in my car. The light turned green, and I sat for a moment, enjoying the blissful peace...when a car on the cross street blew through the intersection at about fifty miles an hour.

If I had gone ahead like any normal person does at a green light, there's a very, very good chance I'd be dead, he would have hit me right in the driver's side.

Not exactly a close call...but one of the strangest ones I've had.
posted by Xoebe at 6:00 PM on September 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


I live on the SFBay Peninsula, where people are always getting hit by the CalTrain. When I first moved here I was kinda shocked they built it the way they did, where they did. Some of the crossings are completely wonky where you can get one car stuck between a train and an intersection... seemingly by design.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:10 PM on September 13, 2010


pjern, did you know my brother is an engineer for CP?

I don't know if you ever specifically mentioned it, but it makes sense.
posted by pjern at 6:16 PM on September 13, 2010


That's a good way to spend ten minutes like O_O
posted by bayani at 6:27 PM on September 13, 2010


This happened when I was driving a passenger shuttle van. I was stopped at the light, and when it turned green, I looked left, then looked to the right as I proceeded. My passenger was looking to the left, and seeing her look of panic, I reflexively hit the brakes as I swung around to see what she was looking at, and a minivan slid through the intersection sideways with its brakes fully locked. If I hadn't had that reflex of instantly hitting the brakes, we would have been in front of it. The driver let off the brakes and proceeded onward when she was through the intersection.

God only knows how fast she was going, on a suburban street, to have a) been out of sight when I looked, and b) to have skidded all the way through that intersection. Based on how casually she handled the situation, she must have been used to driving fast.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:30 PM on September 13, 2010


Because I was the guy on the engine once, and watched people die under my wheels, and I think it would be nice if people would occasionally take other people's sensibilities into account, rather than using videos of stressful and hurtful (to some folks) events for puerile entertainment.

I'm truly sorry for the pain you went through. A friend of mine tried to kill himself by throwing himself under a subway many years ago, and I've always been angry that he chose such a selfish way to express his misery. (He lost a leg in the process, and went back on medication afterwards, so I think he learned something from the experience.)

This is still not your decision to make for us. 9/11 widow(er)s and orphans don't get to dictate what happens at Ground Zero, after all. Most of us have been somewhat disgusted by the content of the thread; please take that to heart and move on.
posted by Epenthesis at 6:45 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The woman in the last clip looks like she came within inches of deliberately touching the third rail. Yeowch.
posted by schmod at 6:48 PM on September 13, 2010


[trains] move faster than expected, and you often don't hear them coming.

No kidding. I was once walking on some tracks at night with a friend. We left the tracks and within probably a minute a huge freight train came barreling along. I was amazed that we hadn't heard it at all when we'd been on the tracks, or felt any vibrations. It made me wonder - if we'd still been on the tracks, would we have heard it in time to get comfortably out of the way?
posted by Dasein at 7:15 PM on September 13, 2010


For the sake of those who didn't watch the video, not all of the clips are of people risking their lives on purpose. Several of them are of people not doing anything particularly dangerous when a car suddenly comes skidding by at 50 mph. Those clips are kind of fun because you can feel good for the people who made it through alive. The clips of idiots playing with trains, not so much.
posted by Loudmax at 7:16 PM on September 13, 2010


*groaning with exhaustion after watching that

phew.
posted by nickyskye at 7:19 PM on September 13, 2010


Most of us have been somewhat disgusted by the content of the thread

I don't know what you're talking about; I can't think of one disgusting thing that's been said. It's been a great mix of people rightly denouncing idiot stunts and sharing interesting and sometimes quite personal insights into how accidents happen, how people deal with track suicides, how people react to accidents, etc. with lots of personal anecdotes and interesting links. It's been way more interesting than the video itself. Threads like this are what make Metafilter great - no fighting, just good discussion.
posted by Dasein at 7:19 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


They forgot one.
posted by booth at 7:22 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is really a mind-blowing collection of near-misses

Yeah, I wouldn't want to watch the out-takes on that one. "Take 27, cue the train!"

Having had my share of auto accident injuries, I have a pre-rehearsed response, in case I don't have time to think. If a car is going to hit you, jump up then pull your legs in tight under your body, roll off the hood, over the roof as needed, with both arms wrapped tightly around your head, fetal position, tuck and roll. Dusting oneself off and strolling away is extra credit.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:30 PM on September 13, 2010


I couldn't watch the whole thing. As amazing as it is, it's just toooooooo stressful.
posted by cccorlew at 7:38 PM on September 13, 2010


Well that stressed me out just before bed. Good grief.

But ditto on the seeming calming effect of adrenalin. I have in the course of doing theatrical rigging work been too close to some fuckups. Including an electrician dropping a Source4 ERS about 6 inches behind me when I sat down on the deck to look over some paper work. I jumped up, took a step away and suddenly felt very aware of everything around me but wasn't panicking. Once things are resolved tho you always feel exhausted and shaky.
I'm always happy for boring days after those sorts of things.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2010


Jimmy Havok: " several hundred tons of steel barreling into them."

A single railcar, fully loaded, is 286,000 pounds.

Hundred-car train? Not counting the locomotive(s)? Try tens of thousands of tons! Barrelling along at 55 MPH. WOO!


Regarding traffic stops, I always park nose way out away from traffic, so my right rear corner is almost over the lane line, and can protect the cop. And hit the flashers as soon as I'm being pulled over. I've probably gotten out of three or four tickets just for having that courtesy.
posted by notsnot at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2010



Somehow, maybe about 5 or 6 minutes in, I started to feel like I was watching a Buster Keaton movie.
posted by Huplescat at 8:08 PM on September 13, 2010


While I'm driving him around, and simultaneously having a conversation which is taking a good amount of my brain activity (because I'm trying to impress the director) the Escalade in front of me skids up the curb, catches on the barrier, and goes end-over-end. I calmly change lanes around it and change lanes back, [...] Somehow my brain had registered it at the time just as if the Escalade had thrown it's brakes on and I didn't have the time or patience to deal with it.

The same thing happened to me once. I was going about 80 in the left lane on a divided highway, when the guy in the left lane on the other side suddenly drifted to the right, left the road, and came sliding sideways up the median at me. I remember glancing back, calmly noting that I couldn't move over because there was somebody in the lane beside me, and then driving on, just as I would past someone who wasn't sliding sideways -- I must have passed him by maybe a foot. The cloud of rocks and dirt he kicked up pitted the hell out of my windshield, but that's all that happened... he slid to a halt somewhere behind me, still safely inside the median. Hell of a way to wake up, I'm sure!
posted by vorfeed at 8:10 PM on September 13, 2010


I was shooting an auto race once, focusing on a curve way down the track (to achieve that real compressed look), when I heard a crash and then everybody in the stands behind me audibly gasped. When I looked up from the viewfinder I saw a car crashed into the rail about 8 ft. from where I was standing. As I recall, I just went back to shooting and didn't think about it until later. I didn't feel traumatized by it.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:28 PM on September 13, 2010


This one remains my fave as it has it all. No injuries to speak of, repeated vehicle-a-vehicle mayhem, and a truly miraculous human escape (at the 34 second point).
posted by philip-random at 8:36 PM on September 13, 2010


Yeah, this video isn't quite what it seems to be. Some of those train escapes were clearly suicides that chickened out at the last second, even that double train escape was obviously a suicide attempt. And there are a couple of clips that I'm not sure the people survived. Like the kid that got hit, he got smacked hard and could easily have died from internal injuries. And then the storefronts that exploded, I didn't see anyone in the aftermath.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:45 PM on September 13, 2010


Good move on the part of the cornerworker at 2:35, he turns backwards as the car hits him so his knees can buckle instead of breaking.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:59 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously. They show that one place at least twice, with cars trying to navigate around the railroad crossing. The train was like only 100 feet long, you're saving, what, 4 seconds?

Dude, sometimes you're just trying to get to Chuparosa before sundown, maybe with banditos on your tail, and oh look it must be Sunday, there's the train, at a distance to all appearances like it's standing still. You can always get another horse.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:06 PM on September 13, 2010


I don't know what you're talking about; I can't think of one disgusting thing that's been said.

*sigh* More precisely, most of us have been disgusted by the cavalierly idiotic attitude of many of the people who appear in that video.

You happy?
posted by Epenthesis at 10:00 PM on September 13, 2010


That makes perfect sense as a comment, I was just surprised because you specifically referred to the thread. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by Dasein at 10:03 PM on September 13, 2010


I've been on one train that struck a car (neither driver nor canine passenger were injured) and another that fatally struck a pedestrian. This post was stressful and kind of amazing to watch, but each of the train "near misses" simply pissed me off. Being stuck on a train for fucking hours after a collision - until the scene is clear and the train can creep forward to a station - because someone had to rush through a crossing is outrageous. In both cases the victim is either extremely dumb, extremely selfish, or (most likely) both. The other victims - the thousands of passengers - didn't do anything to deserve being trapped for hours, or stuck waiting for delayed trains. The real victim, the train's engineer, winds up suffering for weeks or months. After twice being through a crash I no longer have any sympathy for most of the folks who die in front of the Caltrain here in the Bay Area, but a whole lot of sympathy for the drivers and even the passengers. To stand in front of a train as a joke is just criminal (and lots of other things).

(that turned into a rant... sorry about that)
posted by pkingdesign at 10:13 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think I'm going to take my emergency Xanax now. Thank you and good night.
posted by Skygazer at 10:25 PM on September 13, 2010


Speaking of videos with trains...
Train vs. Tornado. Guess who wins!
Metafilter: July 10, 2009 7:17 PM
posted by blueberry at 11:03 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I had an emergency Xanax, or two. I don't understand the people putting themselves in harms way on purpose. I just don't get it. Life is precious. It really is.
posted by wv kay in ga at 11:05 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading through all of these comments brings back memories of a near-death highway experience over fifteen years ago. I was driving with three people packed into my little sports car on I-81 in southwest Virginia. We're going 70-ish in the left lane and an 18-wheeler just floats over into our lane and forces me off the road. I had no choice but to drive in the grass on the side of the highway and try to not lose control... of course this occurs at a spot where there's some sort of overpass/bridge on the highway where the grass and median are non-existent. I somehow manage, with complete calm, to keep control of the car and navigate back onto the highway without crashing into the 18-wheeler or the quickly approaching concrete wall of the bridge/overpass.

All of that is setup in order to echo people's comments about being very relaxed during AND after a life-threatening situation. The entire episode probably lasted less than 30 seconds and afterward the three of us in the car all looked at each other knowingly, and then moved on with the road trip. I don't recall ever speaking about it after the fact and I had completely forgotten about it until reading through the comments in this thread.
posted by stoic at 11:31 PM on September 13, 2010


I knew a guy who played chicken with high speed trains. At night. The one night, when he jumped, the first carriage of the train was going by as he hit the ground.

The next night he got hit. Not killed, though. He lost his left leg below the knee. He was 17.

The last I heard of him he still retained a sense of humour about it and would loosen up his prosthetic leg when he was at the urinal so he could swing his entire foot 180 degrees and casually say to the bloke next to him "Christ, my foot shouldn't be doing that!"

And yes, the driver of the train was, apparently, traumatised. People who play chicken with trains, intentionally or not, are dicks. People who suicide by commuter train are utterly selfish dicks in so many ways.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:26 AM on September 14, 2010


Dasein: "Also, WTF is it with people driving, sometimes backwards, into cops stopped at the side of the road? I mean, seriously, how hard is it to just drive straight on a highway?"

When my mom was teaching me to drive, she liked to say "wherever you're looking, that's where the car goes" and it's true to a degree... if you're looking off to the right, the car will start drifting that way.

Pjern, I never knew you drove a train. I had a good scare once when I was going across a track (the lights weren't on and the gates weren't down) and suddenly there was a train headlight aimed right at me, very close... I didn't realize until after I let out a scream that the train was stopped.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:48 AM on September 14, 2010


The consensus around my monitor was that there should be snipers to take out the train-chickens.
posted by rodgerd at 1:06 AM on September 14, 2010


In addition to all the other things people have had to say, this also reminds me, unhappily, of how much we have gotten used to living in a world where we are the near-constant subjects of video surveillance.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:08 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"wherever you're looking, that's where the car goes" and it's true to a degree...

I deliberately trained myself out of that on my motorcycle in order to avoid problems like running off the outside of curves or into interesting things on the side of the road.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:28 AM on September 14, 2010


Amazing. Was surprised to find myself giggling uncontrollably at some of the more intense near misses.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 3:31 AM on September 14, 2010


"wherever you're looking, that's where the car goes" and it's true to a degree...

Target fixation


I had a good scare once when I was going across a track (the lights weren't on and the gates weren't down) and suddenly there was a train headlight aimed right at me, very close... I didn't realize until after I let out a scream that the train was stopped.

This happens to me on a semi-regular basis; there is a crossing near my house that trains regularly stop near (I assume to change crews or something) and even though I see the stopped train and gates not activated as I approach, when I cross the tracks and see the train's headlight out of the corner of my eye I always think for a split second "Oh shit! How did I not see that train coming!"

I am surprised no one has mentioned the skydivers near the middle. I know skydiving has dangers, but it never occurred to me that getting hit by a plane in mid-air was one of them.
posted by TedW at 7:53 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"trained not to break" != "trained not to brake"

I thought the (apparently unintentional) "what you did there" was:
train drivers are trained
posted by kmz at 7:53 AM on September 14, 2010


TRAIN/CAR + PEOPLE = STUPID!
posted by Fizz at 7:54 AM on September 14, 2010


I drive across a street-level train crossing for the MBTA commuter rail on my way home. I get twitchy every time anyone in slow traffic drifts into the train crossing area at all - even if they wouldn't be directly hit by a train. Gah. TRAINS HAVE MORE INERTIA THAN YOU THINK, PEOPLE.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:40 AM on September 14, 2010


I know skydiving has dangers, but it never occurred to me that getting hit by a plane in mid-air was one of them.

Not supposed to be. Airspace reservation.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:48 PM on September 14, 2010


I know skydiving has dangers, but it never occurred to me that getting hit by a plane in mid-air was one of them.

Not supposed to be. Airspace reservation.

That was the jump plane, making a powered dive to quickly pick up the next load of skydivers. A friend of mine used to fly at a skydiving op, and one of the guys he flew with there ruptured an ear drum due to the pressure change when descending that quickly.

Also, yes. I admit I sort of at first enjoyed the "wow, amazing luck" sections where a random passerby narrowly avoids a hurtling chunk of car. Not so much fun to think about the people in the cars, for sure. The train-jumpers are just dicks. That's not luck, that's pure stupidity, full stop.
posted by Alterscape at 9:00 PM on September 14, 2010


TRAIN DRAMA
posted by tehloki at 8:07 PM on September 15, 2010


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