Death comes calling a little too close to home
There aren’t many jobs better than reporting, until the news is tragic and just around the corner.
I was working on my computer at home, just before 1 p.m. yesterday when I noticed a helicopter hovering over my neighbourhood.
I live two blocks from the Scarborough Bluffs and it is not unusual for news helicopters to buzz the air above the shoreline if something is going on in Lake Ontario.
I glanced at the headlines on thestar.com a few minutes later and saw that GO Transit service was halted in my part of the city because a pedestrian had just been struck by a train near the Galloway Rd. crossing.
The train tracks are only a few hundred metres north of my house and Galloway Rd. is just down the street. Now I knew why the news helicopter was there.
With a sense of dread, I grabbed my camera and hurried to the crossing. I don’t cover spot news any more, but I still know what to do.
The crossing was surrounded by police cars and caution tape. Officials were clustered around an area about 100 metres down the tracks, where two guys were holding up a blue tarp to shield the body behind it from view.
I’ve always been a tough guy about the death and tragedy that reporters cover, more likely to joke about it than get upset. It always involve people you don’t know, and at a distance.
This was a little too close to home.
Right or wrong, I formed a conclusion that a teen from the high school just up the street had left at lunch, wandered down the tracks while listening to music on his earphones and didn’t hear the train approaching from behind.
It’s happened before.
As I snapped photos, I kept wondering if it was a kid from my neighbourhood, maybe a teen that walks past my house every day on the way home.
Maybe someone I know.
In my mind, I went to the only place left: Is that my boy over there?
My son turns 13 Thursday and is in grade eight at a middle school about a kilometre away.
The school doesn’t let them leave at lunch without permission from home, and my boy has never shown the slightest interest in the tracks.
It couldn’t be him.
But who is it, and what were they doing on the tracks?
I still don’t know (police had not released any information as of Tuesday night) and it still bothers me.
At 3:15, when my son’s school released the hordes for the day, I was there.
I needed to see him.