Deadly decisions

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

January 18, 2012 1:42:45 PM PST
So the captain of that cruise ship in Italy was cruising close to shore allegedly to impress a friend, or some such thing?

Showing off - or making sharp turns with large machinery - usually doesn't end well. And it certainly didn't end well in this case.

It almost looks photo-shopped or something, the picture of this giant cruise ship on its side so close to shore.

The exact death toll isn't yet known because a couple of dozen or so passengers are still missing. But it got me thinking about maneuvers we all do every day and get away with - crossing against the light, making a lane change that is too-close-for-comfort, trying to race a yellow light.

And we know sometimes it doesn't end well.

It got me thinking about a plane crash that affected me and my family - back in 1966. A crystal-clear day in Tokyo as a BOAC (the predecessor of British Airways) 707 took off for Hong Kong.

The prevailing belief at the time was that the pilot, hoping to exploit the great weather a bit and give the 124 passengers and crew a great look at Mt. Fuji, cruised too closely to the giant mountain, and crashed into it.

Doing some research online today - and yes I managed to find information with an on-strike Wikipedia (more on that in a bit) - the reporting suggests that the plane's tail ripped apart from strong air turbulence - caused by wind shear from flying over a mountain as high as Mt. Fuji.

It did not dispel the conventional wisdom that the pilot flew too close to the mountain - but it did refute the belief that the plane had crashed into the mountain.

It was more than disturbing reading the accounts today - especially the one about some passengers falling from the plane, spread-eagle as if in free-flight before their parachutes opened.

Of course there were no parachutes.

Not for any of the passengers.

Including the one who was my uncle.

I think of the nephews - and all the other family members - of the passengers who were killed or who are still missing off the Tuscan coast tonight. And I wonder how they'll view this tragedy, and what lessons they'll take away from it.

Hopefully staying away from less-than-brilliant maneuvers that endanger lives will be one of them.

We'll have the latest on the search for victims - and survivors - at 11.

We'll also have the overwhelming show of support for the websites that have protested the proposed new laws to prevent Internet piracy and copyright infringement. Much of Hollywood has supported the new laws, but many Internet sites shutdown today to protest. And now, because of the backlash, some of the bill's sponsors have backed off.

Also - a huge brouhaha brewing in Washington, where Pres. Obama has nixed the so-called Keystone pipeline which would have run from Canada to Texas. Republicans had wanted it included as part of the end-of-year payroll tax cut compromise. Buckle your seatbelts.

Also at 11, we'll have any breaking news of the night, plus our Jamie Roth looks at the newest trend in finding a roommate: "Speedroomating." Of course it starts on the Internet - and people looking for people to share a house or apartment quickly find out who might be compatible - or not.

Plus, Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.


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