The Riggs Blog

Human Error on Metro North

 

By Eric M. Plakun, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsych

Since many of us at Riggs and in the Berkshires are periodic users of Metro North trains for travel into New York City, we have followed with great concern and sadness the tragic crash of a Metro North train in the Bronx last week. How awful that four died and so many sustained injuries that early morning. Our thoughts and condolences go out to all the victims—including the engineer. 

How awful for this man, pushing a long line of cars from an engine located where a caboose ought to be, who must be struggling with the bombardment of unfolding media speculation and emerging facts suggesting that he was sleep deprived and, basically, fell asleep at the wheel. In his own inner torment he is likely facing the experience of public humiliation, but may also be facing other demons of guilt that have been set loose inside him by his own knowledge of what happened. Or speculating further, perhaps he may even be grappling with a snowballing blame phenomenon while he carries alone a different truth than that reported in the media. Human error is an experience of every human being, though, fortunately, relatively few of us make errors large enough to kill and injure people. May we all—including the engineer--forbear in our quite human tendency to reach premature conclusions and seek revenge miscast as justice. In showing patience and compassion for the engineer while the NTSB investigation unfolds, perhaps we may even learn a bit about showing patience and compassion for ourselves when we err.

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