As a tribute to my father—who passed away in 2008—I am re-posting this article from July 15, 2012. I hope you enjoy it, Dad.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—is a degenerative motor neuron disorder that generally affects the muscles, but later spreads into almost every system in the body. Those unfortunate enough to develop the disease experience “rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing and decline in breathing ability” (Wikipedia). And the mortality rate for ALS is 100%. There is no cure and the outlook is always grim.
I know this because my father passed away in 2008 from ALS.
Although I’ve come to accept the fact that he is gone, I often find myself wondering how someone like my father could develop such a horrible disease in the first place. And even though it isn’t genetic—he was the first in our family to suffer from ALS—I worry that eventually, I could be next. Of course, my father and I were almost polar opposites in many respects, so I am optimistic and feel confident something else will likely get me.
This fact doesn’t make me feel much better, though. After all, we’ll all die from something eventually and none of us can escape it.
What bothers me most about my father dying from ALS is the way he lived his life and the eventual irony of it all. You see, my father was an orthopedic surgeon who exercised all the time. In fact, some of the equipment at our local YMCA had been donated by my father and uncle, both of them surgeons and partners who endorsed exercise and physical activity at every turn. When my brother and I were young, my father forced us to accompany him to work out, hoping we would follow his example and start exercising more on our own someday. Granted, we both stayed active through sports and other pursuits, but pumping iron wasn’t really our focus. And he was hoping to change that.
For years, the three of us would visit the YMCA, work out to the point of exhaustion and then repeat the process several times each week. Dad even hired personal trainers to set us up with exercise routines tailored to our specific needs. Combined with his exercise tips, we learned everything we needed to know and worked hard to get in shape, at least in the beginning.
Unfortunately, my brother and I responded to being forced to exercise in very different ways. He continued long after we were free to choose for ourselves and still exercises regularly today. I went the opposite way, choosing to exercise indirectly through work or other activities like sports. Oddly enough, the same thing happened with church. Being forced to go anywhere didn’t really agree with me, but my brother could find all sorts of value in it and, as a result, is a more religious person than me. And in this respect, I was more like my father.
Diet and nutrition were also important factors in my father’s life. To this day, I have never seen anyone consume as much fruit as him, sometimes two or three different fruits in one sitting. As for drinking, he would occasionally have some Vermouth with dinner, or the rare glass of wine or cold beer, but generally abstained. Smoking was never his vice, either. Instead, he would lecture me for hours about its dangers once he discovered that I had taken up smoking cigarettes. And no matter what ailed me, he always claimed it was the result of my smoking.
My dad was also a man of adventure and always took us on trips full of excitement and thrill-seeking, as evidenced in my earlier post “Ketchum If You Can”. Over the years, we traveled all over the world to go white-water rafting, skiing, hiking and sightseeing. We ended up at one time or another in Colorado,Costa Rica, Hawaii, Argentina and dozens of other wonderful locales. And even when he was unable to accompany us, my father would still finance our trips to places like Brazil and the US Virgin Islands.
It was during a family trip to Costa Rica that I first noticed some of his physical limitations.
During most of our previous hikes, my father was front-and-center, leading us through the woods or jungles with a Devil-may-care attitude and almost unlimited energy. This trip into the rain forest was much different. Instead of maintaining his footing and trudging along, my dad would often slip or have to keep himself from falling down an embankment that normally would not have fazed him. My siblings and I expressed concern, but he always blamed it on being a little older or unfamiliar with the terrain. We had our doubts, though.
Later, I noticed that my father had started limping. When I asked what the problem was, he would simply qualify it as some minor nerve damage that would eventually correct itself. Only it never did. In fact, it started to get worse, but he insisted it was nothing. And since he was always the tough, macho man from South America, we never questioned it.
Then came the phone call that changed everything.
I was dining out in Raleigh with my fiancé and her family, walking back to the car after a delicious meal at the Macaroni Grill. The call from home seemed a little strange since I had spoken with my mother earlier, but I really started to worry when I heard my father’s voice instead. He was never much for phone calling and our conversations were always short and sweet.
This conversation was much different.
He told me he had been diagnosed with ALS almost a year before, but didn’t want us to worry so he kept it a secret during that time. Knowing next to nothing about the disease at the time, I asked about his prognosis and he told me he wasn’t sure, but things wouldn’t end well once the disease progressed. Of course, I was crushed and immediately thought the worst. He comforted me and assured me that he would be around for a long time. We both knew that wouldn’t be the case, but remaining optimistic seemed like the best approach at the time.
Over the next year, I watched helplessly as a man who was always strong, muscular and mentally sharp deteriorated into a mere shadow of the father I once knew. One by one, his muscular systems started to shut down and, towards the end, he even needed help using the bathroom. We bought him an electric wheelchair to allow him greater mobility, but he hated using it because he was so proud. About the only time he would ride it was when I brought my newborn son to visit. They only spent a year together, but my son still remembers cruising around the house with him.
The last time I saw my father, we talked about the life he helped me create for myself and the new family I had just formed, which brought him a great deal of pleasure. He just wanted to know that his own life had made a difference to someone else, which it certainly had. In fact, he had impacted nearly every person he came into contact with, including his family, friends and the hundreds of patients he served during his successful career in medicine. Everyone who knew him loved him. And I made sure he knew just how much I loved him, too.
The next morning, my mother called to tell me he had passed away in the middle of the night and that I should come over immediately to see him one last time. My sister had spent the night on the couch near his favorite chair in our living room. She woke up in the middle of the night and gave him a kiss before heading to bed. Little did she know, but that would be the last kiss he would ever receive.
I found my father lying in the same chair, only now he was perfectly still and cold. Grief took hold of us all as we wept beside his body, holding his hand or gently stroking his head. Then his body was removed and cremated, leaving me with only a small urn containing remains that were split between my mother, my siblings and me. Today, it sits on my mantle with his picture, a constant reminder of the man who spent his life for his family, and who made me the man I am today.
ALS is a terrible disease that affects roughly 30,000 people at any given time. And as I mentioned before, there is no known cure for it either, but there is hope. The ALS Association is working hard to find ways to treat and eventually cure this degenerative disease, and they are making progress. I encourage everyone to support their efforts because, believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you or someone you know and love.
And if you are living with ALS, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.
John Littig—a life coach, workshop facilitator and motivational speaker—and his common-law wife Lynne Rosen—a psychotherapist, speaker, consultant and life coach in her own right—hosted a radio show on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York called “The Pursuit of Happiness.”
The show focused on “personal development, growth and creativity” and aired every other Thursday afternoon. The couple also ran a business called Why Not Now that—according to their now inactive website—offered “life coaching designed to help foster and encourage your inner strengths, identify hidden and untapped resources, and put you confidently on the path to designing the life you’ve always wanted to live.”
Basically, Littig and Rosen liked helping people. The ironic thing is that for all their efforts and good advice, nothing could save them from themselves.
The couple was seated on the couch, holding hands and wearing plastic bags over their heads. A tube attached to a canister of helium ran into each bag and nearby were two notes, one written by each of the victims. When he was asked later what the notes said, Boztepe could recall only one line from Littig’s final writing assignment: “I can’t take it anymore. My wife is in too much pain.”
“I was shocked,” the apartment manager told reporters. “I am still in shock. I feel so bad for these people.”
What caused two radio hosts who prided themselves on bettering the lives of their listeners to suddenly end their own—together, nonetheless—remains to be seen. Perhaps a clue can be found in a comment Littig made on one of his recent shows, a comment that now takes on a much darker meaning.
“So much of life is about impulse, it’s about doing it right now,” he told his listeners. “Go with your gut. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense,” Jones was arguably one of the best defensive players in NFL history. He entered the league in 1961 and was immediately drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Together with Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy, Jones helped form one of the scariest defensive lines the game has ever seen: the infamous Fearsome Foursome.
Jones would later play for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins, not that it mattered much in terms of his game play. In his 14 NFL seasons, Jones won All-Pro honors for five consecutive years (1965-1969); went to seven straight Pro Bowls (1964-1970) and another in 1972; was named AP’s Defensive Player of the Week four times; missed only 6 of 196 regular season games; revolutionized the defensive end position; patented the head slap move as a pass rusher; and accumulated 194.5 sacks over his career, placing him at third on the all-time sack list.
In other words, he was a beast. And a lot of good offensive players took a beating at his capable hands.
“His eyes were as red as fire, and after he took his stance, he was pawing his leg in the dirt like a bull,” said former Dallas Cowboy Rayfield Wright, who first faced off against Jones in 1969. “As an offensive lineman, you’re taught only to hear the quarterback’s voice. Nothing else. I’m listening in case there’s an audible, and in the pause between ‘Huts!’ I hear a deep, heavy voice say, ‘Does yo’ mama know you’re out here?’ It was Deacon Jones.”
Jones was undoubtedly as fearsome as they come, and his impact could be felt among NFL owners and managers, as well.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Washington Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said of the defensive legend. “Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him.”
Actually, Bruce, Deacon Jones is an inspiration even to those who didn’t know him. And he will be for years to come.
Rest in peace, Deacon.
I confess to being a little behind in writing about the terrible tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, but there have been some new developments that warrant mentioning.
The twister—which has just been classified as an EF5, the strongest tornado category measured by the National Weather Service—tore through the small town (population 55,000) on Monday. Winds in excess of 200 miles per hour turned homes into rubble as the mile-wide tornado destroyed everything in its 17-mile path.
According to the latest reports, 24 people are dead and countless others were injured in the freak storm. Nine of the victims were children caught in Plaza Towers Elementary School when it collapsed. Initial reports indicated that they drowned in the school basement, but these were recently proven to be incorrect.
Not that this makes it any better, of course.
“We got full allocation last year with the Sandy supplemental funds. We are looking to continue the response here as well as the previous disasters,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said recently. “But if we have another hurricane, we may need more money.”
And we all know how hard money is to come by these days. Yikes.
The damage to Moore was so bad that city officials even had to print new road signs so survivors and rescue workers would know where to go. Obviously, the town looks like little more than a war zone, as evidenced by the picture included here.
As horrible as this storm and its impact were, the only good things to come from this disaster were the stories of heroism as people struggled to protect one another.
At Briarwood Elementary School, for instance, teachers used their bodies to shield students from harm and even sustained injuries in doing so. Suzanne Haley was one of them and ended up being impaled by the leg of a nearby desk.
“We crowded the children under desks,” she said later. “And me and a fellow teacher put ourselves in front of the desks that the children were under.”
In my opinion, Haley and everyone else who risked bodily harm to protect others deserve to be called heroes. Of course, she disagrees.
“It’s nothing anybody wouldn’t do,” Haley claimed in true hero fashion. “These children—we see their smiles, their tears, every day, in and out, and we love them.”
However, the one thing that we can control is how we react and respond to situations like this one. And based on what I’ve read and heard, the people of Moore are doing the best they can in a situation that many of us will be lucky to never experience. But they still need help.
If there is anything you can do to lend a hand to these folks, please consider doing so. Donations can be made directly to the American Red Cross by going here. And since every little bit helps, I hope you will join me in donating something to aid in the recovery. If you’re hesitant, though, please remember this:
What if it happened to you?
“Live the life you love and love the life you live.” - Bob Marley
This quote from one of my favorite modern-day prophets—the late, great reggae pioneer Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley—was also a huge inspiration to 21-year-old Hofstra junior and public relations major Andrea Rebello.
The shooting occurred last Friday night after authorities were called to the off-campus house in Uniondale that Andrea shared with her twin sister Jessica and two friends. An unknown intruder—now identified as 30-year-old Dalton Smith, a fugitive with a long arrest record wanted for jumping his parole on first-degree robbery charges—entered the home during the early morning hours and held Andrea and one of her roommates hostage.
Fortunately, her roommate was able to escape and immediately called the police, who arrived at the address to find Smith holding a gun to Andrea’s head.
Smith threatened to kill Andrea and at some point in the action raised his gun as if he was preparing to fire at the responding officers. Gunfire was exchanged and sadly, Andrea was caught in the crossfire.
She was accidentally shot in the head and died almost instantly. Smith was also shot seven times and died at the scene. All in all, it was a pretty horrific turn-of-events.
Here was this young, intelligent and… let’s face it… drop-dead gorgeous woman so full of life and potential, only to have it all ripped away from her not by her captor, but by the law enforcement officials tasked with rescuing her.
The word unfair doesn’t even begin to describe it…
Early Wednesday morning, 21-year-old Jonathon Bennett—a Geographic Information Science and Technology major at ECU since 2010—was drinking with some friends and hanging out in the woods behind University Manor Apartments.
They had stumbled across a huge, uprooted tree and spent some time “chilling out” on it until finally deciding to head home. Jonathon found a sturdy branch to walk on and grabbed the branch above him just to be safe.
Sadly, that safety ended when the branch above him snapped.
Jonathon fell over the side of the giant tree, dropped roughly seven feet down and landed on his back. Unfortunately, an old debris fence had been crushed by the tree and Jonathon landed on a metal post.
It impaled him from his lower back up through his upper chest, killing him instantly.
His friends sent for help, performed CPR and screamed so emergency personnel could find them, but there was nothing they could do. Jonathon was already gone.
It’s hard to imagine how Jonathon’s parents must feel right now. They send their son to college, share in his successes, watch him grow and develop, take pride in the young man they raised and suddenly, it’s all gone.
And all because of some freak accident.
Looking back, I did some things in college that seemed harmless at the time—similar to walking along an overturned tree, which I likely did as well at one time or another—but now seem much more dangerous.
Chalk it up to the invincibility of youth, I guess. Only when people become old farts like me do they realize just how vulnerable they may have been “back in the day.”
The way I figure, I probably put myself into four or five serious situations in my time. None of them were out-of-the-ordinary, though. I never slept in an alleyway, robbed a hooker or went bungee jumping, for goodness sake. But I did once jump off a railroad trestle into the river below—without first checking the depth or possible debris.
I took my buddy’s word for it when he assured me it was safe, but that only gave me a 50-50 chance that he wasn’t completely full of shit. I was also much taller than all my friends—as well as heavier—so I always went deeper. If anyone was going to break his neck or cripple himself in this crazy stunt, it would be me.
But I did it anyway. And it was fun.
If I were to attempt the same stunt today, I can guarantee with absolute certainty that I would perish. No ifs, ands or buts about it. And that’s the thing: I could have died the first time. It just didn’t occur to me while I was “in the moment.”
I’m sure you all know what I mean.
What sucks most about Jonathon’s death—aside from it coming far too soon and in such a gruesome, shocking way—is that he wasn’t even taking a risk, at least not in his mind. Granted, I didn’t know him and shouldn’t assume to know what he was thinking. I just know what I would be thinking.
Walking along a tree is much different from choosing to leap off a perfectly good bridge into a muddy, possibly shallow, creek. And Jonathon took at least one precaution when he grabbed the branch above him. It was dark. He probably couldn’t see how high up he was, much less that there were metal posts sticking out of the ground below.
Then snap… the branch breaks and his young life ends in the blink of an eye. And there’s the rub: you just never know when your number will come up and should therefore approach each day as if it were your last.
I won’t preach carpe diem since this isn’t Dead Poets Society, but I will quote one of the cheesiest 80s bands of all time—REO Speedwagon—and advise you all to “live every moment.” And when death does come knocking, I hope none of us go in the way poor Jonathon did.
But the odds are against us.
This past Tuesday, authorities in Union, New Jersey made a gruesome and disturbing discovery, but one with a rather sweet, sad twist.
They were called to the Mill Run at Union Apartments after tenants complained of a funky smell coming from one of the units. Police found the apartment and noticed that the door was open, but the chain lock was connected. After forcing the door open, they entered the unit and found that it wasn’t vacant.
There was a malnourished 4-year-old boy locked inside. And he had been there for almost a week.
Although there was plenty of food in the apartment, the poor little guy couldn’t reach it and was unable to open the refrigerator door. He was basically starving to death, but somehow managed to stay alert. Not only that, but he also found time to care for someone else.
Police found her in the bedroom. She was the boy’s mother and one thing was for certain: she had been dead for some time and was “in a state of decomposition,” according to the official statement.
And here’s what really tears me up about this story, even more than the horror of a child trapped in an apartment with a corpse.
“He was putting some type of lotion on her, but she was deceased,” Police Director Dan Zieser said later. “It’s very sad.”
And very sweet.
Although this story brought to mind Silence of the Lambs when I first heard it—”It puts the lotion on its skin”—I was also touched by how precious and caring this child was towards his mother.
Being so young, the boy obviously didn’t know she was dead and was doing what he thought would help… and while he was starving, no less. It really tugs at the heart-strings, don’t you think?
The good news is that this sweet young man was taken to a local hospital for treatment and should be fine, at least in terms of his physical condition. There could be some as-yet-unseen psychological effects in the years to come, but I’m optimistic. He’s so young that it’s likely he will forget about this in time.
As they say, time heals all wounds. And let’s hope that’s the case for this amazing child.
No matter who you are or what you believe, the inevitable truth is that every life must someday come to an end. Death is the great equalizer and doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or any other factor.
When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re like me, you envision your demise coming at the end of a long, successful and rewarding life.
Lying in your death bed and surrounded by the family you helped spawn, you bathe yourself in adulation and let the love warm you as your body grows cold. As your time grows near, you utter some final words designed to inspire your progeny for generations to come. Peace comes over you as a bright light appears.
And then you’re gone. No pain. No regrets. Only love.
Wishful thinking, isn’t it?
I wish every death were as peaceful and pleasant as this, but the fact is that things rarely go as smoothly.
Instead of passing away in your sleep, you check your cell phone just as you step off the curb and get flattened by a city bus; or remember electricity the second before you step into your bathtub with your laptop in hand, the cord dragging through a puddle on the floor behind you; or leap from a cliff into the water below without bothering to check the depth first.
Of course, a lot of people just end up wasting away in some nursing home or hospital room. Not that this is any better, mind you. I’d much rather jump off the cliff.
Regardless of the manner of your death, the truth is that your time will come now, later or, preferably, far into the future. No one knows when or where, and that’s the beauty of it.
Only Death knows.
All death is tragic, to be sure. But death that results from the negligence of others, to me, seems most poignant, especially when the unexpected victim is young. Wrongful death interferes with the natural order and removes fate from the equation. When it also removes hope, like the limitless hope of youth, it becomes even more heartbreaking.
The latest edition of “Reality Round-Up” presents three examples of wrongful death. And in all three cases, the wonder and promise of youth is extinguished by “people” who barely deserve the classification.
Saturday marked the 12th birthday of Bailey O’Neill, a young Delaware County student.
The next day, he was dead.
In January, O’Neill was the victim of bullying at Darby Township School. His attackers hit him in the face, fractured his nose, knocked him down and gave him a concussion. Shortly thereafter, O’Neill started having violent seizures and had to be placed in a medically induced coma.
On Sunday, his family decided to remove him from life support and the young boy died peacefully. And far too soon.
An investigation by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office is active and school officials are cooperating. With any luck, they will find the bullies responsible and teach them a valuable lesson.
Might I suggest employing some older kids to return the favor, albeit in a non-lethal way? You could call it an “Old Testament Refresher” for Sunday school or something.
Prepare yourself to be both saddened and angered by this next story. It pissed me off, to say the least.
On February 26th, 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed in a dining tomb… I mean, room… at Glenwood Gardens. A staff member immediately dialed 911 and you will never guess what happened next.
The 911 dispatcher knew what to do and asked the staff member to perform CPR on Bayless, but the caller refused. Apparently, it was against the home’s policy for employees to perform CPR on anyone, so they simply waited for paramedics to arrive.
Bayless was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. And as far as I know, there will be no investigation into her death, either. That’s all she wrote.
I wonder if CPR would have helped Bayless? Granted, she was old, but everyone deserves a last chance, right?
Stupid staff member.
Wrongful death is most wrong when it applies to babies, as it does in this next story. I must warn you, though. This is pretty disturbing stuff.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a 72-year-old physician facing eight counts of murder: one for a 41-year-old woman who died while in his care and seven more for babies he aborted. In the words of prosecutors, he runs a “house of horrors” and deserves to die.
This may seem harsh, at first. But I assure you, it is completely warranted.
Gosnell is known for performing late-term abortions, so the babies he “destroys” are alive when he first encounters them. To end their lives, he uses scissors to sever their spinal cords. And these are babies that could have been saved!
The Women’s Medical Society, as Gosnell’s “clinic” is known, has been operating since the late 1970s. He serves mostly low-income, minority women and, in his mind, provides a valuable public service.
Tell that to the young woman who died of an anesthetic overdose on his table during a second-trimester abortion. Not to mention the endless babies he slaughtered along the way.
Following Gosnell’s arrest, authorities searched his office and found some pretty disgusting things. There were bags and bottles full of aborted fetuses, jars with severed baby feet on the shelves and blood-stained equipment everywhere.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams described the scene later.
“It was a house of horrors beyond any type of definition or explanation I can humbly try to give,” he told reporters. “My grasp of the English language doesn’t really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was—rotting bodies, fetal remains, the smell of urine throughout, blood-stained.”
Sounds like an ideal place for medical procedures, don’t you think?
Jury selection began Monday, but there are rumors that Gosnell is seeking some kind of plea bargain. And he may somehow buck the system and get himself out of trouble, but I can say this: there is no plea bargaining in Hell.
And after what he’s done, that’s exactly where Gosnell is heading. It won’t be long now.
This concludes another depressing edition of the “Reality Round-Up” and I have but one thing to add: I will do my best to make the next one uplifting and inspirational.
I just might have to look somewhere other than the news.
Every so often, scouring the news sites illuminates patterns that are sometimes good, but most often bad.
This is one of the bad ones.
For as long as I remember, climate change has been an important and largely unaddressed issue in this country and around the world. It almost seems like some huge catastrophe must befall humankind before someone finally asks, “Is it possible that climate change is to blame for this?” And in many cases, it is. Yet mere weeks after natural disasters occur, this sudden attention to the environment fades and we’re right back where we started.
Well, let me tell you: Mother Nature is not happy. As evidence, I present the following stories. Sure, some of the events described could be the simple result of human error, but I suspect something darker and more disturbing may be involved.
To me, it seems as if the trees are lashing out. And honestly, who could blame them?
Our first story comes from Indiana Township in Pennsylvania. Last weekend, 30-year-old Jason Drew was clearing trees when a large branch fell and killed him instantly. Apparently, the chainsaw he was using got stuck and when he and a buddy tried to dislodge it, a large limb snapped and fell on him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Trees 1, Humans 0.
A second tree-related incident occurred on Monday afternoon in Duvall, Washington. For unknown reasons, a van driven by 43-year-old woman suddenly veered off the road, slipped into a shallow ditch and hit a tree. Seconds later, the tree snapped and fell onto the vehicle, impaling the windshield and pinning the driver down.
Fortunately, a man driving a truck behind the van witnessed the accident and immediately came to her aid. Using a pocket knife, he cut the seat belt from her neck because she was turning blue. Then he and several others stayed with the driver until help arrived. She was later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and, as far as I know, is expected to make a full recovery.
Trees 2, Humans 0.
Our final story comes from Rockdale County, Georgia. On Tuesday afternoon, 60-year-old Roy Arndt of Oxford was driving down Interstate 20 when a tree suddenly fell on his pickup truck. He died instantly and the accident caused several smaller accidents, as well as a two-hour delay for commuters anxious to get to work… if such a person even exists. I don’t know that many people anxious to start their workdays.
This brings the final score of Trees versus Humans to 3-0 in favor of our tall, green, bark-covered friends. Granted, these were all accidents and blaming them on trees may seem ridiculous, but my question is this: What if these weren’t accidents?
Since we can’t be sure, it’s probably best that we appreciate the trees around us before we become their next targets. And I don’t plan on taking any chances!
In 1989, two hot air balloons in Australia collided, killing 13 people.
And in 2013—yesterday, in fact—another hot air balloon in Luxor ran into trouble and by the time the smoke cleared, 19 people were dead.
It was the worst hot air balloon disaster in decades. Yet another depressing milestone for mankind.
I don’t know all the details, but I heard the balloon was nearly on the ground when a fire suddenly broke out. A witness said it then shot way up in the air, split apart and fell 1000 feet to the earth below.
Only two people survived the crash: a Brit and the pilot. Big surprise there.
In other words, there are a lot of grieving families all over the world tonight. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.