Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Run Over by a Train: Passed-Out Teen Okay, Pretty Much

"Train passes over passed-out teen"
DesMoinesRegister.com (July 4, 2011)

"An Altoona teenager, apparently drunk and passed out, was passed over by a train Sunday night.

"He was not seriously injured.

"Two railroad engineers for Iowa Interstate Railroad said they saw 17-year-old Christian Latshaw on the railroad tracks as they were moving east....

"...When the engineers, David Good Jr. and John Knutson, realized a person was in front of the train, they applied the emergency brake, but the engine and first car still went over the top of Latshaw before the train stopped...."

Close Encounters of the Railroad Kind

That "not seriously injured" may be a bit of an understatement: after getting up close and personal with the train, the teen had "two lacerations on the back of his head and a bruise on his right thigh."

The Lemming was a little dubious about that "apparently drunk and passed out" description. Granted, taking a snooze on railroad tracks isn't typical teen behavior. Or wasn't when the Lemming survived adolescence. Still, being drunk isn't the only possible explanation.

Turns out, there's more to go on: when law enforcement got to him, the young fellow had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol, and said he'd been drinking at a music festival. He'd gone a mile before starting to sleep it off on the tracks.

This teen probably won't have trouble remembering this close encounter of the railed kind: "...Latshaw was arrested and received a delayed referral to juvenile court on trespassing and public intoxication charges, according to the police report."

And the Moral of This Story Is - - -

The Lemming could use this teenager's experience with alcohol, music, and transportation technology as a starting point for an impassioned plea:
  • Ban alcohol!
    • Out, out, Demon Rum!
    • Remember Prohibition?
  • Outlaw music festivals now!!
  • Terminate trains!!!
    • Tear up the spider's web of railroads1
      • Train tracks are but the octopus tentacles of greed and corruption1
    • Besides, trains are big and scary
No, the Lemming emphatically does not think that trains are a menace to life, liberty, and a greener tomorrow. The Lemming also thinks it unlikely that music festivals spread chaos and confusion; or that Carry Nation2 was right.

A Little Common Sense?

Alcohol isn't an unmixed blessing. The Lemming had a drinking problem - but the problem was in the Lemming, not in a bottle. About as far as the Lemming will go on Carrie Nation's road is to opine that getting drunk isn't a good idea.

As that young fellow in Altoona demonstrated.

Ban booze? Terminate Trains? Outlaw music festivals?

All three were involved in Mr. Latshaw's nap on the tracks, true - but the Lemming thinks trouble started with decisions that led to a marinated brain. Not beer, locomotives, or music.

Not that beer was specified - but the Lemming lives in a part of Minnesota that was mostly Irish and German: and is half-Irish himself. Beer was the first thing that came to mind.

Try to take beer and/or whiskey away from that bunch, and you'll have monks making stills while priests keep an eye peeled for the revenuers. Which is what happened, and that's another topic.3

Related posts:

1 The Lemming can't take credit for those metaphors:R. Harrington cites Frank Norris's The Octopus (1901), and the spider's web of George Hudson's "Railway King" (1849). The Lemming's got a pretty good memory - and it's nice to see that some of the 19th century's cautionary tales are preserved. Not that the Lemming would ever want to go back to 'the Good Old Days.'

2 Carrie Nation? She was, as far as the Lemming can tell, a well-meaning person who thought alcohol was behind many of society's ills. And became famous for taking a hatchet to saloons. See:3 Minnesota 13 may be the best-known of central Minnesota's adaption to Prohibition:Generally, the Lemming think that obeying regional laws makes sense. The Volstead Act is one of those things that - *ahem* -

Yes, well: The 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution makes it easier for the Lemming to think that obeying regional laws makes sense - and the Lemming will leave it at that.


Brigid said...

Missing word: "that trains a menace to life"

Extra word: "The Lemming is also thinks it unlikely that"

Within two paragraphs. Impressive.

Another missing word: "and you'll monks making stills while priests"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. As far as I can tell, Carry A. Nation was nuttier than a fruit cake, well intentioned or not.

Brian Gill said...


Thanks, found, fixed x3. Uff da. Not one of my better days.

As for Carry Nation? Accounts of her, ah, zealous do-gooding don't paint a flattering picture. I think it doesn't help that she's the sort of Bible-wielding activist (?) whose quirks aren't in line with those of today's dominant culture.

Think 'peace now or I'll punch your kid' types: They don't get quite the same treatment, I think - but they've got the same self-righteous indignation.

Oh, well: 'it could be worse.' ;)

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