Monday, September 22, 2014

Is it worth your life?

"People have a weird emotional attachment to their phones and they're willing to risk their lives for it," stated Katherine Brown.

On September 17 2014, a select service bus was idling near a Bedford-Stuyvesant bus stop in Brooklyn NYC, New York at about 1:30 pm.  A woman was spotted dropping her cell phone and it landed on the pavement underneath the bus.  She had been heard stating "My phone!" and another man told her to just leave it.  Within seconds there was screaming on the street and the woman was dead.

The bus was still idling on Bedford Avenue between Fulton and Halsey Street when she evidently decided to try and pick up her phone.  She never reached it as the bus began to move and her head was crushed by the rear tires.  Witnesses nearby were horrified by the grisly scene and screamed for the bus driver to stop because it was obvious that the driver had no idea of what had just happened.

The MTA and NYPD are both investigating the accident and believe that no charges will be brought against the driver.  The driver was not named but is said to be a 23 year veteran of the MTA and was treated at the hospital because of the trauma from the accident.   The police have also not been able to identify the woman who was killed since she was carrying not identification with her.

She is not the first person to have died while trying to retrieve a cell phone in recent months.  On January 13 2014, Ken Hoang, 26, of St Paul Minnesota, jumped over a downtown fence around midnight to take pictures of the partially frozen Chicago River.  He accidentally dropped his phone while taking pictures and slipped into the river when he tried to retrieve it.

His two friends,  Lauren Li, 21 and Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang, 23, went over the fence to try and rescue Hoang after he fell into the icy water.  The two would be rescuers also fell into the icy river while trying to help their friend.   Fortunately, other people out walking heard the cries for help and called the police.

Ken Hoang

Lauren Li

Quoc -Viet Phan Hoang

Hoang and Phan Hoang were both pulled from the freezing water but Hoang was dead at the scene.  Phan Hoang was taken to the hospital where he recovered.  Lauren Li's body was not recovered until two days later.  Li was a junior at the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences and worked as an events coordinator at the university's Chinese-American Student Association as well as an undergraduate research assistant in pediatrics.

Hoang attended the University of Minnesota until 2010 and at the time of his death was working as an operations analyst at Wells Fargo's capital markets group as well as volunteering to teach a GED science class at The Open Door Learning Center.  The trio was on a school break vacation and were heading to New Jersey when they stopped off in the Chicago area.

Witnesses had described the area that the three had fallen into the water as having only a small wooden handrail nearby.  It would have been impossible for any of the friends to have reached the handrail while they were in the water.  The water temperature also would have worked very quickly to cool their core body temperatures which would lead to death if not rescued soon.

On March 2 2014, Jenna Betti, 14, was struck and killed by an eastbound BNSF freight train near Howe Rd in Martinez CA.  Three crew members aboard the train spotted two people sitting on the tracks around 5 pm as the train approached.  Betti and her boyfriend had been sitting there just hanging out when they saw the train.

They each jumped off the tracks on opposite sides but Betti was observed approaching the tracks again for some reason.  She had evidently dropped her phone when she left the tracks and was returning to get it.  Police stated that she probably did not realize that the approaching train would create a vacuum and she was sucked in.  Betti was pronounced dead at the scene.

Betti was described as a very good student and an exceptional soccer player.  There are some who believe that she could have become a very good professional soccer player if she had not tragically died.  One friend speculated that she may have been afraid of getting in trouble for losing her phone and made the fateful reaction to grab her phone as quickly as she could.

In June 2014, a woman in China accidentally dropped her brand new phone into a septic tank.  Her husband went into the septic tank to retrieve the phone and was overcome by the fumes.  Five other people entered the tank, not only to try and find the phone but to rescue the ones who had entered and were unconscious from the fumes.

Villagers used ropes to remove the six people from the tank but within five minutes, lives had been changed forever.  The woman's husband and his mother-in-law were dead and four other had to be treated because of the fumes.

Sadly, it would seem that phones have become much more important to us than they had been years ago.  In an age where phones can do almost everything for us, we seem to risk our lives to not lose them and the information they contain.  I doubt that twenty years ago anyone would run back into a burning home to grab the phone off of the wall.  Today, with all the contact information, phone numbers and apps that they contain, people seem to be increasingly unable to even put their phone down.  Now it seems that they are even worth risking your life to "save" them and some are losing that gamble.

Update Sept 23 2014:

The police are still trying to identify the woman who was killed in NYC.  They have stated that she appears to be Hispanic and in her 50's.  They added that they are trying to use several tattoos that she has as identification which include one that states "Mrs Right" on her wrist.  The phone was too heavily damaged to be of any help in finding contacts for the woman.

The woman had just stepped off the bus when she fumbled with the phone and dropped it.  She had gotten down to retrieve it when bus driver James Maxwell, 60, pulled away from the curb.  He did not see her but stopped when witnesses screamed for him to stop driving away.  It is certainly sad that they have not been able to identify the woman after so many days and proves again that carrying identification of some kind is needed.

Update Sept 24 2014:

Police have identified the woman who was crushed by a bus in NYC last week.  They identified the victim as Jennifer White-Estick, 31, through her fingerprints.  She evidently had fingerprints on file with the police from a prior arrest.  They did not release a photo of Jennifer along with their announcement but one was published later.


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