Thursday, October 2, 2008

When bad things happen...

Although I consider myself a journalist, one reporter job that I simply would not do is go knock on doors and ask complete strangers how they feel about a horrific tragedy that befell their neighbors such as what happened in North Amherst yesterday.

As I said a few months back, when Amherst police officer Ricky Arocho lost his two-year-old daughter, I can’t think of anything worse than losing a toddler; and if you can--I don’t want to hear it.

A private couple suddenly thrust into the glaring spotlight at the worst moment of their lives.

Yes, to a certain extent the public has a right to know. The bus and school are publicly funded. But these parents also have a right to grieve: privately.

In this particular case the public interest is mainly out of concern, wanting to help, wanting to make sure this never happens again.

Please send whatever you can (if only your prayers):

Abrahim Espinoza Memorial Fund

Contributions can be dropped off at any Florence Savings Bank branch or the Mark's Meadow school office, or mailed to Mark's Meadow School, Abrahim Espinoza Memorial Fund, 813 North Pleasant St, Amherst MA 01002.

The Springfield Republican reports


Anonymous said...

There is one other thing to be said here - and I say it to grandparents and such who are buying Christmas presents and parents who are buying winter clothes.

After it snows, everything is grey. The sun is low on the horizon and even if it isn't overcast, visibility isn't the best. And there are child-sized blocks of snow along the snowbanks.

Dress kids in bright colors so they show up. Blaze orange hats. Bright yellows. Bright colors contrasted with things like dark green or blue. Things which contrast with the white/gray landscape.

It wasn't an issue here (I don't believe) but it is something for parents to think about -- how well does that child show up in less-than-perfect visibility conditions.

And for Halloween -- lit flashlights (or other lit bulbs or chemlights on the costume), reflective tape or decorations and the child needs to be able to see.

These all-black witch costumes, the child is simply not going to be seen when (not if) she runs across the road. A hem of reflective tape and one of those orange pumpkin head flashlights -- well that will be seen...

Greg Saulmon said...

It's an interesting question, Larry.

And, for this type of story, I'd say that less is more. The public has a right to know what happened -- and, if appropriate, why -- but I'd argue that the public hardly needs the strangers who were close to the tragedy to fill in the emotional blanks.

After all, they're not blank; if you can read that headline without having some idea of how the family, neighbors or witnesses feel, check your pulse.

Another interesting question, though, is whether that principle applies across different types of strategies, at different "scales." E.g., does person-on-the-street commentary actually gain value if we're talking about an earthquake or a hurricane?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah Greg, that's why I have never been impressed with "person on the street" interviews about major calamities: Kennedy assassination (either of them) or 9/11 or Katrina.

After all, we are ALL persons on the street. Another reason the Internet is so important in this instant information age.

Anonymous said...

Larry, if I were the parenet of that little boy, I would not want people asking questions about me or my family. That is my private life and my time to try to reconcile with what happened. Just leave me alone. If and when I am able to converse, then the facts shall be known.

My God, I have been sick, since I heard about this. I saw the accident scene, while on my way to visit my loved one at a cemetery, but did not know what had happened until I saw the news. There were still people standing around, watching the police do their reconstruction of the accident.

God Bless that family and I will give a contribution, and a huge prayer,

Until later...............

LarryK4 said...

As I watched my apartment on East Hadley Road become completely engulfed in flames 25 years ago a reporter from the Gazette/Bulletin came up and actually used the clich├ęd line that only rookie reporters or idiots would use: “So…how does this make you feel?” I came close to punching him.

A few moments later veteran reporter Marcia Blomberg from the Springfield Republican came up to me and said something to the effect “Wow, this must be hard to watch.” “Yeah,” I replied. And then she said, “Would you mind talking about it?”

A much better approach.

As I’m sure most media observers know the average TV station assigns the most inexperienced “reporters” to cover daily news—including breaking stories. Thus we get wet-behind- the-ears, barely adults, sticking microphones in parents’ faces that just lost a child asking the dumb-ass question “so how does this make you feel?”

As a citizen journalist I have NO MERCY WHATSOEVER for public officials, but when it involves private citizens …

Anonymous said...

Well, take it one step further.

The UM Collegian reportedly has pictures of the woman who was hit (and likely killed) by a car on Mass Ave by Whitmore tonight.

I sincerely hope they don't print them.

I wouldn't be surprised if they do.


gibber said...

What needs to happen is a transportation complaints hot-line that does NOT go through Peter Crouse or Ron Bohonowicz's office. As it is, the MANY MANY complaints that are left with these two "gentleman" never see the light of day. I think Amherst residents would be SHOCKED to know how much has been getting swept under the rug in the trans./maint. dept.. It's time to act... NOW.

Anonymous said...

Student severely injured in accident
Baystate is not a good sign, nor was the MSP team that usually covers fatalities investigating this, but hopefully she makes it.


William McGuinness, Collegian Staff
Issue date: 10/2/08 Section: News

A University of Massachusetts graduate student was severely injured as she was crossing the street in the early evening last night.

According to University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski, Li Cai, 25 years old and a student living on campus, was struck by a four-door Toyota Camry while crossing Massachusetts Ave.

The accident occurred at 5:50 p.m., across from the Isenberg School of Management.

Cai was thrown approximately 20 ft. by the collision and witnesses said she rolled over the car on impact.

Blaguszewski said there was significant damage to the car.

The accident is under investigation by the UMPD, and little information is available. However, the accident occurred close to sunset. At this time, the sun shines directly through the windshields of drivers travelling west on Massachusetts Ave., typically slowing traffic significantly as a driver's visibility is limited.

Massachusetts Ave. was shut down briefly following the accident, and the scene was surrounded by yellow tape and evidence markers.

Cai was escorted to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., by the Amherst Fire Department. No information is currently available on her condition

Anonymous said...

Well, Fearing Street still doesn't have a sidewalk. It washed out during that torrential downpour last summer.

Not even a reflective sign, not even well lit. Kids have to walk into road and all.

Not good....


HarleysAngel said...

To what gibber wrote, he is right on every front. I have had to deal with Peter and the guys an idiot. Not impressed with this thought process or his unwilliness to check with other parents when he makes his decions.

LarryK4 said...

Maybe (now I have two of you saying it).

But for Christ freaken sakes, I’m just a blog—meaning one guy who does not get paid for doing this (and mostly not get paid for the other thing I do 50 hours per week)

And yes, I lost a bit a sleep the other night when that awful story first broke because I wondered if maybe—just maybe--it had something to do with what he is complaining about.

An in-person appearance before the School Committee--they have a “public comment/question period” at the beginning of every meeting--would go a long way towards getting this properly investigated.

And the new expensive town web site has a fancy Request/Complaints link (over on the left of the main page). If dozens of parents register complaints it SHOULD get their attention.

And at some point I will hit them with a Public Documents request to see all the complaints that have come in to date.

Anonymous said...

It was an accident. A horrid, tragic, accident.

I have seen gibber complain online before and have wondered why s/he hasn't gone publicly to the school committee as you just suggested. Personally I have only had good responses from Peter. No, I don't know him and I'm not defending him. If I had unresolved problems I'd go public! I am very curious as to what these problems are and if they could endanger my kids.

gibber said...


Turn over that rock PLEASE!!!! If you do it, it will allow me to come forward. Transportation is a time bomb... Amherst children are in DANGER. Crouse and Bohonowicz are not allowing parent's complaints to see the light of day. If the town knew only 10%... 10%!!!!!!!! It's beyond bad.

As a past/present insider, I would know. I'm not blowing smoke.

Anonymous said...

Such as....?????

Aug 22 said...

About a year and a half ago, unit 71 (or possibly 46), a blue GMC cargo van went into the middle school's garage for front end repairs. Tires were removed. But because transportation is sometimes short staffed (when drivers are sick), the mechanic does fill in driving as well. He leaves vehicles in whatever state of repair, goes out to drive students, and comes back to finish the job whenever he can(sometimes days later). In the meantime, untrained members of the maintenance dept. get involved with the repairs, picking up where the mechanic left off!! As was the case with this particular repair.

However what ends/ended up happening is people get confused, not exactly knowing if a job is completed or not. One person may say it's done, but something might be left undone. In the case of unit 71 it went in and the repair was supposedly finished. It left the garage. Sadly, whilst out on a run it was nearly involved in a "wheel off" situation with 8 students on board. The wheel nuts didn't get tightened and the friction from driving it like that, loose, nearly sheered the rim bolts off. It wasn't the fault of the mechanic per se... it was the fault of Crouse and Bohonowicz who don't manage the personnel situation properly and also allow a bunch of different people to work on vehicles, some of whom are NOT TRAINED... without any kind of "real time" communication or supervision as to the progress of repairs!!! This is the way it is as we speak.

Do you think your children are safe?

This is just one tiny example.

Anonymous said...

OK, thanks. I thought you were talking about the speeding, the not waiting for kids to be in their seats before starting again, etc. Important to know it's maintenance too and you really should bring it to light.

gibber said...

They don't keep a log of all the complaints that come into transportation. This is why I am calling for a "neutral" party to handle the calls. I mean really, talk about trusting the fox with the hen house.

Amherst, you have NO idea how bad its been there.