So. One of my co-workers (same job title as me) went to the Reno Air Races last week, and was killed when the plane crashed into the crowd. He was with two other people, one of whom was unharmed by the crash, and the other who was seriously injured but is expected to make a full recovery. Evidently, right before the crash occurred, my co-worker had gone forward (in front of the stands) to take some pictures, and he was standing very close to where the plane impacted the ground.
At first, he was just considered missing - his family held out some hope that he might have been taken to a hospital without ID on him or something. However, his wife flew out there the next day and ruled that possibility out. Also, although no remains have been found yet, they did find some of his personal effects (wallet, etc.) at the crash site. Unfortunately, the crash was so bad that I don't think there is much left of him other than that.
I guess I'm still feeling a bit stunned by it. You don't think much about mortality when you're still in your forties. And, I have to admit that the guy who was killed was not a close friend of mine - we didn't get along that great, to be honest. I won't go into the particular reasons for that right now, but I guess it does make it harder to sort out how I feel. However, I do feel awful for his wife and kids. They had adopted two children (a boy and girl) who are elementary school age. My co-worker used to work the 6 AM to 2 PM shift, and I heard he would call them every morning while he was at work, before they went to school. He was very enthusiastic about aviation and seemed to be good at his job. So - he will be missed.
I think men are worse than women when it comes to grief and dealing with death. I know that after my father died, I did a horrible job with the grieving process and tried to carry on like nothing had happened. That worked - for a while - but after several months I had a few incidents involving anger and behavior that, quite honestly, is nothing I was proud of. I was able to eventually move past that but it took a while. To be totally honest, I think some of the problems I was having with my last job were related to this (although not all of them) and it was definitely time for me to move on when I did. Hell, even if I'd been having zero problems with my last job, I would have left there to go to a major in a heartbeat.
While I am not an extremely religious person, I also am not an atheist, and I have heard people at work asking what God was thinking with regards to this tragedy. I don't know that, but it does seem to me that when you have a man over 70 years old flying a heavily modified high performance aircraft at 50 feet above the ground, passing directly over a crowd of people watching - this is not safe behavior. And, I suppose the pilots involved know it's risky, as several of them have been killed over the years, and they accept that risk - but I hope in future, assuming that the race resumes, that more steps are taken to protect the crowd, even if it means they don't have quite as good a view.
I will definitely be attending my co-worker's funeral, if I can, and a bunch of us from work are getting together Tuesday night to have a few drinks in my fallen co-worker's honor. And I would advise those people reading to remember that life is precious, and to try not to take your daily existence for granted.