It is currently Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:48 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:26 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:17 am
Posts: 61
Location: Rocky Hill, NJ
Over the last weekend the news started to break that a fairly well known actor and fitness model had been struck by a train in Burbank, California and killed. As the story began to gel, the news articles said that he and a crew had been filming on the track. They mentioned in passing that George Gregory Plitt, Jr. USMA ‘00 was a West Point graduate, Airborne and Ranger qualified, and had served five years active duty after graduation. Then some of the comments began asking how someone bright enough to have graduated from the United States Military Academy was dumb enough to have tried to out run a train.

I come from that world. We train to do things which, in a normal life, would be considered absolutely insane. Jumping out of perfectly good aircraft in flight is one of the tamer activities. We learn to find the edge of our envelope and push it. One hundred pushups in two minutes? That’s all? Keep Going. Do 101 then 102 and so on. You learn how much your body and your brain can do and you go for more.

You learn to take Stonewall Jackson’s advice to heart, “Do not take counsel of your fears,” and you keep going. You need to do this in order to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Doing the impossible however comes with risks. You learn to do everything you can to minimize those risks but you can never eliminate them.

You know that statistically something will go wrong – it is going to happen. It just is. That’s why it’s called risk. The most important lesson is learning that no matter how good you are and how hard you train, you can never eliminate it entirely. No matter how hard we work, neither the laws of physics nor the law of averages can be overcome.

We keep training and keep practicing and after a while we begin to believe that we are good enough that we will overcome whatever goes wrong. We push the envelope and we succeed. We become accustomed to beating the odds. We know we’re that good. Eventually we may even forget that there is a risk.

You accept that risk when it is necessary. Going up the cliffs at Normandy Beach required accepting that risk. The rescue of the Chilean Miners a few years ago required a non-commissioned officer in the Chilean Navy to accept that risk.

There are times when the result may be worth the potential sacrifice. Yes. Sacrifice. The sacrifice of a human life to obtain a particular result. Sara Jones was sacrificed in the name of making a movie. Greg Plitt appears to have been a sacrifice in the name of an exercise video.

Getting that perfect shot of a train; making the next video; making a movie; the perfect prom/wedding/whatever shot – none of these rise to anywhere near the level where the possibility of sacrifice should even be considered. How often have we all heard the following? ‘I know the rules’, ‘There will be enough warning’, or ‘If something comes we can get out of the way in time’. How many railfans, portrait photographers and cinematographers have pushed the envelope and gotten away with it? How many believe that because they have gotten away with it, once or even several times, that they will continue to get away with it?

Greg Plitt pushed the envelope. If anyone had the physical and mental resources to do so successfully, he did. He spent a decade of his adult life training to just that. The envelope broke. Shooting an exercise video on an active track? It was an envelope he should not have even been in. If there is any small good which may come out of yet another senseless death it is this:

If this guy could not get out of the way in time, What makes you think you can?

Michael E. Allen
Princeton NJ
January 21 2015


Last edited by Michael E. Allen on Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:26 am
Posts: 47
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
Forgive my brashness, but this relates to preservation how?


Preservation of one's life. Railway preservation, not so much


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:49 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
Michael E. Allen wrote:
Then some of the comments began asking how someone bright enough to have graduated from the United States Military Academy was dumb enough to have tried to out run a train.



I do not believe that he was trying to outrun a train. Where is the evidence of that?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 378
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
Forgive my brashness, but this relates to preservation how?


Relates in the same way that the ongoing thread about the movie maker's death in Georgia relates. As rail fans we think we know how to be safe. These blogs are reminders that we can get complacent and make a fatal mistake.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
He was not trying to out-run the train. His gimmick, based on the news reports, was exercising on railroad tracks. He was filming a commercial at the time, and did not have any permits to be on the right of way.

Once again, not only was he engaging on a dangerous activity, he was promoting it, which will lead to others trying the same thing. Just like the wanna-be photographers who see shots of a model posed on the tracks and say "Hey, I'm going to try that!".

What does this have to do with preservation? Directly, possibly not much. But most of us are around railroads from time to time. That brings up the question of what to do when you see trespassers. The rulebooks make it clear, they're supposed to be reported. However, it can be easy to say "I didn't notice them" or "They were leaving the property when I saw them."


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 458
Bobharbison wrote:
He was not trying to out-run the train.

Actually, one outlet reports that he was trying to do just that:
Quote:
Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... they have reviewed video of the accident and it shows Plitt standing on the tracks as the train barrels toward him. Shortly before the train reaches Plitt he assumes a runners stance and bolts down the track.

The video shows the train closes in on Plitt as he races at breakneck speed, but he loses the battle and the train "clips" him ... throwing him off the track to his death. It happens quickly and after getting struck he disappears from the video.

Source: TMZ: Bravo Star Died in Superman Stunt Trying to Outrun Train (January 20, 2015)

_________________
--
Chris Webster
Personal Website Last Updated in 1996


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:05 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
OK, I hadn't seen that one yet. This one shows him working out in the middle of the tracks.

http://abc7.com/news/greg-plitt-was-fil ... nk/480805/

If he actually tried to out-run the train, then I'm amazed by his extremely poor choices.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:20 pm
Posts: 448
There was a scene in Superman (1977?) where teenage Clark Kent outruns a streamliner. Whose train equipment was that?

(Edit: As I remember, Superman was on a road, so was not trespassing. He would never do that.)


Last edited by rock island lines on Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:49 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
My point was that if the victim was running ahead of an approaching train, in the same direction that the train was moving, on the track that the train was on; I do not believe that he did so thinking that he could outrun the train.

I think he did so thinking that the train was on the other track, so he did not have to outrun it. He made the classic double track error which has been made over and over throughout history by trespassers and railroaders alike.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2091
Location: Northern Illinois
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
Forgive my brashness, but this relates to preservation how?


Because these idiots are just as likely to be found on your preservation railway's track trying to outrun your preservation railway's train.

Of course, if you only run Shays, they may well succed.

_________________
Dennis Storzek


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:07 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 611
True enough about out running Shays and small slow moving trains. But if you trip or take a bad step if can be "game over". If railroaders can get hurt or killed, I think it a good reminder to keep an eye on your "tourists" or "guests" too. I am not a safety Nazi, but "a word to the wise is sufficient, a word to a fool is wasted".

We recently lost a member/volunteer to an accident. Kind of hits home for me. Guess my point is this could be used as a reminder to keep your eyes open for people who should know better. A good photographer is probably very focused {no pun intended} on his agenda and may miss the "falling tree". Smart people are capable of doing dumb things, dump people can teach smart people on occasion. I have tremendous respect for AB and Ranger qualified people, if this person with these qualifications, dedication and drive can make a poor choice, then you know we are probably capable too. Personally I try to learn from bad mistakes and hopefully I remember the lesson without having to repeat it. None of this may pertain directly to rail restoration, but indirectly applies to anybody or organization that runs trains and has a potentially unforgiving environment open to the public, that being volunteers, paid staff or John Q Public. Free opinions get'em while the last. John


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5252
Location: southeastern USA
It seems this person made a considered choice to take his chances with what to others with a different perspective and more knowledge of the physics of the situation would not have even been considered, and suffered the consequences of his actions. It wasn't heroic - it was ignorant and ill conceived at best, a failure during a blatant self promotional stunt at worst. Saying it went wrong isn't accurate, it went the only way it could have based on the laws of physics in this universe.

If it prevents further foolishness, great - otherwise, just a waste.......

dave

_________________
"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:50 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2077
I heard about this elsewhere and wasnt going to bring it here, well there ya goes.

Simple. Stop, Look, and Listen.

There may be plenty of undocumented examples of childish dares of man vs train, its a little dangerous game that will get plenty of news if unsuccessful.

There are stories of tightrope walkers (not on trains, doing their normal dangerous routines without protection) for the entertainment of the masses, and so on and so on we go.

And Toronto with its streetcars, they had so many suiciders jumping in front of cars they stopped newsstorying it.

Greg took the dare and paid the price. It seems sports in general is gaining attraction/attention, more sports oriented eateries/bars with TV's everywhere, and groups out there who want to turn railroads in Trails (obvious this is also trending on the sports theme) you see why this nonsense is happening. (and theres money working behind it)

Go on, keep going, you get this to happen, sports freaks..

not around railroads you do, the stories repeat constantly on the Rail Chicago news feed CTA, someone gets into a train path and that is that, daily.

overNout


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2091
Location: Northern Illinois
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Because these idiots are just as likely to be found on your preservation railway's track trying to outrun your preservation railway's train.


I understand that 100%.

My underlying issue is that this is a topic that comes up once in awhile here.

We can't save everyone from harm, that is a fact. People will do what they want to do.


Saving people from their own stupidity isn't the point. We need to be mindful to save our preservation organizations from the financial devastation an incident like this will cause.

Who would have thought that someone (other than a suicide) would be stupid enough to intentionally run on the track in front of your train. I'm sure those of us who have operated (thankfully, not me any longer) are mindful of the dangers running children and absent minded adults walking towards the track pose. Maybe we need to look at people with cameras set up along the track in a different light - not that they will mindlessly step in front of the train, but rather that it is a set-up for a stupid stunt that is going to pop out of nowhere.

_________________
Dennis Storzek


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pushing the Envelope
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:52 pm
Posts: 513
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
Dear Moderators:

I respectfully request that this topic be locked account lack of relevance to railroad/trolley preservation.

"Preservation of one's life" as a reason the news item needs to be on these pages is a stretch and the folks who read and contribute to this forum certainly recognize that what this idiot did was fodder for the top Darwin award.

Trains Newswire item--no problem there. Item on RyPN interchange--no way.

Thanks!

_________________
Jim Vaitkunas
Minnesota Streetcar Museum
www.trolleyride.org


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: