One Thought About the Two Deaths in Asiana Airlines Flight 214

Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013. (Photo: vsrivera)

The crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco on Saturday killed two people. Given the circumstances, it could have been much, much worse.

The last fatal commercial flight in the U.S. was on Feb. 12, 2009, when 50 people were killed in the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, N.Y.

The last fatal flight of a major U.S. airline was on Nov. 12, 2001, when 265 people were killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Number of people killed in U.S. traffic accidents since the last fatal commercial crash in the U.S.: approximately 143,200.*

Number of people killed in U.S. traffic accidents since the last fatal major U.S. airline crash in the U.S.: approximately 442,600.**

Number of U.S. newspapers, TV networks, etc., that did not feature Asiana Airlines flight 214 crash as its top story: approximately zero.

One definition of “news” is an event that is anomalous. In that regard, the Asiana crash was certainly that. But the more common definition of “news” is an event that is, on some level, extremely noteworthy. Does the Asiana crash meet this standard? If so, why?

* Click here for NHTSA’s year-by-year fatality count; this estimate includes 10 months of 2009 traffic fatalities, a preliminary 2012 figure from NHTSA, and for 2013 a partial (six-month)  tally based on slightly less than half of the 2012 fatalities.

** Includes all traffic fatalities from Jan. 1, 2002 onward, calculated per * note above.

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  1. Kara says:

    When you compare it to the horrible runaway oil railcar accident in Quebec where there are at least 15 dead and 30 missing in the same time period, it highlights what irrational creatures we are. Same thing for the tornadoes which tragically killed the three meteorologists that got more play than the numerous lives lost in the fertilizer explosion.The seven pillars pull it all together for me. Thanks.

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  2. RGJ says:

    Not to skew everyone’s formulas, but it was confirmed today that one of the two young teens killed at SFO was run over by a firetruck. Derp.

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