(photo by Hilary McHone)
Two weeks ago, on Friday, March 23rd, Wendy and I were coming home from a poetry reading and dinner when we witnessed a tragic event on the L train. Two men, Joshua Basin, 20, and Ryan Beauchamp, 33, got into a fight at the Bedford stop and fell onto the subway tracks. Originally I ran over to help separate them, but after they fell, to help them back up, but it was already to late. A Manhattan-bound train was barreling down the tracks, and I yelled for the men to lay flat on the ground, but they both tried to pull themselves up. Ryan Beauchamp escaped, but Joshua Basin was hit by the train and pinned between the train and the platform. I went over to Joshua and stayed with him, trying to keep him awake, until a doctor took my place and the cops arrived to tell us to leave. Joshua was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. A manhunt was soon underway for Ryan Beauchamp. As witnesses came forward and the police supplied their information to an interested media, a great deal of misinformation demonizing Ryan Beauchamp found its way into the various articles and comment sections. My wife and I held ours tongues as we spoke with detectives and waited for the charge. When Ryan Beauchamp was charged with aggravated assault and not murder, I felt it was necessary to speak up about how the initial information was handled poorly by nearly everyone involved, and how the handling of the story actually ended up hurting the friends and family of Joshua Basin even further. As more and more witness testimonies became public, it became clear that both men, at least in part, had a hand at various points in what transpired. I wrote about the incident at length, and will post my initial piece at a later date. In the meantime you can read a deftly edited rendition of the piece on the New York Times‘ “The Local” website:
I really have nothing else to add at this time. It was a deeply sad, human experience, and Wendy and I have worked through it in our own way, and our thoughts go out to the friends and families of both parties involved.
As some of you may recall, I wrote about another tragic event, a suicide, on the Bedford L train last year. Directly following a tragedy we have an impulse to share and pick apart of all the information presented to us by the news and by followers of the news via Facebook, Twitter, comment sections, blogs, etc, and that the result is often a muddled mass of misinformation that solves nothing, and in some cases actually continues to hurt the real victims of a case. Both articles in part make the case for Slow Replying or No Replying, meaning in the age of the 24-hour News Cycle, where information is updated by the minute and arrives from sources not yet fully vetted, we should withhold on forming or adding our opinions to the mix too soon and skeptical of any initial information put out by the media, as it’s sure to change.