Boston journalist Mark Baard wrote an interesting posting at his blog, Timenauts, on Friday, July 17th, which, in hindsight, is spooky.
Baard made this observation in "Synchronicities strike the rails", "Here’s one for Loren Coleman (The Copycat Effect) and the synchromystics. I’ve noticed several reports of collisions in the heavy and light-rail industries since May 28 – and one intense, and fictitious scene, in Caprica, which appeared online earlier this year, in promos for the new series."
Baard cited for his examples the Washington, D.C. Metro crash, the Boston-area Green Line crash, and the Disney Monorail crash.
Needless to say, events can come in clusters and we have to be careful about Fortean insights or synchro-conspiracy theories based on accidents. But Baard's item was curious. After all, David Phillips behavior contagion research on the "Werther effect" showed that media reports of suicides could lead to small airplane accidents, almost as if the subtle suggestion is placed in the mind of the pilots to crash.
Could the news reports of so many rail wrecks result in more accidents? Who knows? Would you say the media has been "death obsessed" lately ~ with the passing of David Carradine, Farah Fawcett, Gale Storm, Karl Malden, Michael Jackson, and Walter Cronkite? Or even within the Fortean field, with the deaths of John A. Keel, Lou Gentile, Richard H. Hall and Ellie Frazetta?
So what should occur on Saturday, July 18, 2009, thus crowning Baard with the synchromystic award of the month? Another major rail accident took place!
KGO-ABC7 out of San Francisco reported the details, some of which are here:
It was a chaotic scene at a Muni station after two light rail cars collided Saturday afternoon. Multiple injuries were reported in what is being described as a major accident at San Francisco's West Portal station.
The crash happened at around 3 p.m. Dozens of passengers were triaged nearby in the southwest part of the city. At least 47 people were taken to three different area hospitals, three in serious condition.
Officials say a westbound L-train crashed into a K train that was standing still at the platform. The front of the L train is crushed. Passengers in both trains were hurt.
While we know they are undercounting, at least the Associated Press took note of the fact there have been several of these rail wrecks.
The AP, talking of the July 18th news, said:
Saturday's crash was at least the third major transit accident in the United States since May.
Nine people were killed and more than 70 injured June 22 when a Metro train slammed into a stopped train on the tracks in Washington, D.C. The cause has not been determined but investigators say equipment that is supposed to detect stopped trains failed periodically in the days leading up to the crash.
On May 8, more than 50 people were injured when a Boston subway trolley plowed into another train. Authorities say the 24-year-old operator, Aiden Quinn, went through a red signal while typing a text message on his cell phone. Quinn was indicted earlier this month on charges of grossly negligent operation and he faces three years in prison if convicted.
The June 22, 2009, crash of the Metro trains on the Red Line occurred between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations and was the deadliest accident in the system's history. The name "Totten" comes from a Civil War-era fortification, which itself was named after General Joseph Gilbert Totten, the Chief Engineer of the antebellum US Army, regent of the Smithsonian Institution and cofounder of the National Academy of Sciences. Totten was greatly admired by General Winfield Scott, for whom he directed the siege of Veracruz as his Chief Engineer during the Mexican-American War.
(By coincidence, a bridge collapsed at Veracruz, Mexico, sending cars into the Tonalá River and killing at least 8 people, on July 17, 2009. And in a strange wreck, also for July 17th, the date of Mark Baard's blog posting, an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile crashed into a Wisconsin home.)
In March, I wrote about the rather pivotal subway crash in the then-new film, Knowing.
The subway wreck appeared to have been placed in the movie almost as a tribute to the "Fayette Factor."
The "Lafayette Street" subway station, created in Australia, stood in for a fictional New York City subway stop. While there are many "Lafayette" streets, avenues, and more throughout NYC, a Lafayette stop is not one of them. Someone made a conscious decision to use this name in this dramatic scene, no matter what city was fictionally chosen. As we have now seen, this scene was to be repeated in reality soon after the release of Knowing.
The Knowing Nicolas Cage character was named Koestler, an apparent tribute to Arthur Koestler, who was born in Budapest, Hungary, on September 5, 1905. Koestler was a political writer made famous by his one book that focused on meaningful synchronicity – The Roots of Coincidence (1972). As Paul Devereux wrote for Fortean Times in 2005, Koestler's work tries "to find a basis for paranormal events in coincidence, or more precisely synchronicity, so that there is only one phenomenon to explain rather than many."
Knowing opened on March 20, 2009, on the spring equinox, the first Friday after St. Patrick's Day, and before we knew it, rail wrecks were a frequent item in the news.
Let's try to compile a complete list:
March 29, 2009 - A rear end collision in Gulwe - Igandu section (Mpwapwa district), Tanzania, killing dozens of passengers and injuring many others. Equipment breakdown and culpability.
May 8, 2009 - More than 50 people were injured when a Massachusetts Transit Authority subway trolley plowed into another train in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.
June 5, 2009 - A 111-car Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed in Oshawa, Ontario, around 2:15 p.m. CDT. Two locomotives and 27 cars of the train derailed. Some of the cars came to rest in nearby backyards and a schoolyard during recess.
June 7, 2009 - A girl is killed by the locomotive of a regional train, while she was trying to make a picture of a railway bridge, in the Bacau city (Bacau county), Romania.
June 19, 2009 - A major downpour of rain hit Rockford, Illinois, USA, and caused 14 of the 114 ethenol tankers to leave the track and explode into flames. One person at the rail crossing was killed, while several others were burned.
June 22, 2009 - Two rush hour Washington Metro trains collided in Northeast Washington D.C., USA, killing nine people.
June 29, 2009 - A freight train derailed at Viareggio, Italy. Two of the wagons were carrying Liquefied petroleum gas and they exploded. Twenty-five people were killed, five of them when a house collapsed.
June 29, 2009 - Two passenger trains collided at local time 2:34 a.m. at Chenzhou railway station, Hunan Province, Republic of China, killing 3 people and leaving 63 injured. The accident was allegedly caused by a brake failure. But this is disputed.
July 5, 2009 - Two monorail trains crashed around 2 am in the Magic Kingdom section of Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Florida, killing a 21-year-old train operator.
July 9, 2009 - An Amtrak passenger train hit the side of a vehicle in Canton Township, Michigan near Detroit, Michigan, USA. Five people were killed, all of whom were in the vehicle.
July 14, 2009 - A train conductor and engineer were killed in a Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad freight train crash in a rail yard around 2 a.m., when a dozen empty cars derailed in Bettendorf, Iowa.
July 17, 2009 - Two light rail cars (the K and L trains) collided in the SW section of San Francisco, California, at around 3 p.m. with reports of 47 people hurt.
That does seem like a good deal of coincidences and crashes, doesn't it?
Interesting timing on Mark Baard's part.