Don’t Let Breaking News Break You

The breaking news reports on Tuesday were that a car exploded in the vicinity of the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. I had two initial reactions, both of which turned out to be false, but I was smart enough not to share them because I wanted more information. Often, especially when dealing with breaking news, the smartest replies are “I don’t know” and “Insufficient data”.


The first time I dealt with my now former primary medical care provider I had a rare condition and she said, “I don’t know exactly what is wrong with you.” She referred me to a specialist who took care of me. I subsequent conversations I know she felt a bit inadequate. To me she was both brilliant and honest. (You can’t be the former sans the latter in my book.) As a personal note, if you or your son is reading this, Cathy, I hope you are doing well in your early retirement! At the time I was serving on the board of a non-profit with a retired NP. She had only run across the condition once in her career.

Back to the Rainbow Bridge. It is one of four international bridges in Western New York and I’ve traveled over all of them. As advice to tourists, it is just yards from the falls and you can have a passenger snap a great picture from that vantage point if you choose it to cross the border.

My first thought was that the incident was somehow terrorist related. In the wake of 1/6 and especially 9/11 I think that is the kneejerk reaction of most Americans. As liberal as I am politically, I like our security people acting conservatively and closing the other three bridges and rail traffic until details could be ascertained, while inconvenient, was prudent. (I don’t have a number but cross border commerce is huge in Western New York and Southern Ontario. It is not unusual for people to cross the border for entertainment and other needs. Decades ago, during a gas rationing period in America I simply drove into Canada and bought all the gasoline I wanted at any time I wanted.)

My next reaction was that it was somehow connected to a smuggling (human or otherwise) situation. In both scenarios I considered the possibility that this incident was a diversion for something bigger at one of the other bridges. Perhaps the fact that I just read Patrick Radden Keefe’s book, The Snakehead, influenced my second thought.

It turns out there is absolutely no reason to suspect either. The car was owned and driven by a middle-aged couple from Grand Island, NY (a Buffalo suburb) with no criminal background or record. Their presence at that exact spot appears to be the result of a last-minute change of plans. The car was a Bentley which is both expensive and extremely rare in snowy Western New York. Not exactly a car that would blend in or is the choice of smugglers and terrorists.

The bottom line is that it was just an unfortunate, if spectacular, accident. While my blogging has a built-in delay, I’m certainly glad I’m not in the breaking news analysis game and you shouldn’t be either.

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