Photo: Frank Becerra Jr. of The Journal News

Photo: Frank Becerra Jr. of The Journal News

It is hard to fathom the sense of sudden grief that the families of the victims in the Valhalla train crash must now feel.  Reading about the lives lost is a sad and moving experience.

Yet even this does not fully explain the emotional impact that this tragedy has had on many of us.  There is something more.  Maybe it’s that we can all picture ourselves on that train.   Metro-North is so familiar, so deeply woven into the fabric of our region, and so much a part of the daily experience of countless commuters.  This is the train one of my brothers takes every day, for example.  How many thousands of other people have a similar connection, direct or indirect?

So this event feels strangely close.  Less abstract and distant than other accidents.  And scarier, as a result.

The investigators will surely determine whether the crash resulted from an improbable cascade of terrible luck or from correctable systemic problems.  For now, all we can do is offer heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and gratitude for the safety and health of our loved ones.