The Natalie Smead story painfully continues

ntsb Last month, the StarTribune ran a follow-up story on the accidental death of Northfielder Natalie Smead two years ago: Teen’s family says NTSB report on N.Y. train death is incomplete. The Northfield News ran a story at the same time titled Alcohol contributed to teen’s death, says NTSB. The comment thread attached to the latter, as well as a letter to the editor last week, show that some people are upset that Northfield News article didn’t tell the whole story.  Others are defending the paper. Now comes word this week that Natalie’s mother, Susan Perry, died on Sunday. I don’t know what to make of any of this but the conversations I’ve heard this week make it evident that it might be helpful to provide a place for the community to discuss it online – with respect and civility, please.


  1. victor summa said:

    Griff: Frankly all the reporting you’ve linked us to in this comment falls short of good journalism. The family’s lawyer is quoted poorly by the Strib, as are the NTSB quotes in the N News piece.

    Plus the invasion of the family’s feelings is simply exacerbated by this your post.

    Pull it… serves no good. Even if no one picks up on your offer to comment, the story hanging there on the LG Bulletin Board bodes no good

    might be helpful to provide a place for the community to discuss it online

    I don’t think so.

    If you want to go after the News … then find a better subject matter. Opportunities abound.

    April 11, 2009
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    It was difficult to figure out how to handle this, Victor. I didn’t intend it to be a bash-the-News piece, though I think it’s fine to debate their coverage. And there is a public aspect to the story, ie, both the NTSB report as well as the pending lawsuit by the family. I would like to see a journalist do an in-depth piece on on it and I’ve contacted someone to see if they will.

    April 13, 2009
  3. cyndi jones said:

    i know what to make of this. the pain was too much for sue to handle any more, on top of which we have too many people judging the victim natalie in this horible accident. has nobody ever had a drink when they were young? can you imagine the terror this poor girl was in? and what would any of us do? panic perhaps? it doesnt matter if she had no drinks in her system or 20, NOBODY should be able to slip through the tracks to their death! of course the transit authoritys want to blame the victim, they want to protect themselfs at all costs by placing blame elswhere. northfield news should have asked for sue’s perpective. now we have two victims out of this tragedy

    April 13, 2009
  4. David Henson said:

    I am occasionally doing laundry in Northfield toward closing and have often seen a young man with no legs who had a young girl friend who cleaned the facility. This young man was very impressive in his mobility and good cheer. He would toss his wheel chair out of his van and then jump out landing on his hands and pull himself up into the wheelchair – really an extraordinary athlete. The other day I asked the girl how he was doing – she said he died of alcohol poisoning from drinking too much Tequila.

    Alcohol has such an overwhelming cost to society and I don’t think the media really does anything to cover that story. Clearly they have a huge conflict of interest given the amount of revenue derived from alcohol advertising. Maybe blogs can fill in with more honest coverage.

    April 13, 2009
  5. Tracy Davis said:

    As a community, it would be ideal if we could find a way to process our tragedies, and help those individuals who are dealing with their pain.

    I knew both Natalie and her mother Susan slightly; I was horrified by Natalie’s accident, and knew it must have taken a horrible toll on her parents. Susan’s death makes it even more sad, if that’s possible.

    I hope that we, as a community, will offer support and comfort to those who are grieving. It may not be the place of a newspaper to do that, but we can at least make an attempt on a blog like this.

    April 14, 2009
  6. Bonnie Jean Flom said:

    Griff ~ You say “it might be helpful to provide a place for the community to discuss it on-line.” Even if it were helpful in some way to the community, that’s not what’s important here! Right now, NOTHING is more important than allowing the family time to heal without interference. And opinions expressed in an on-line discussion will certainly not allow that to happen. I respectfully ask that you remove it. Please.

    April 15, 2009
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Bonnie, I don’t see how this is interference. Done responsibly, I think an online discussion can show that the community cares, that we’re trying to make sense of things, and that the family’s lawsuit, the NTSB report, and the newspapers’ coverage are all public issues that can still be discussed despite Sue’s death.

    April 19, 2009
  8. Peter Smead said:

    Dear Griff- I am Natalie’s dad and Sue’s ex husband. I would like to forward something to you. Please e mail me at above. Thank you.

    April 26, 2009
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Hi Peter, apologies for the delay in getting your comment posted. Email on the way.

    April 26, 2009
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    I posted these media links to the other blog post titled More of the story behind the Natalie Smead tragedy but I thought I’d also include them here.

  11. May 7 Newsday: Mother of LIRR gap fatality Smead commits suicide.

  12. May 20: The Associated Press has published an article running in many newspapers titled For Minnesota family of NY train victim, a 2nd tragedy (St. Paul Pioneer Press link).

  13. May 24: Star Tribune’s Jon Tevlin column: Dad sees hope after accident leads to two tragic deaths.

  14. May 24, 2009

Leave a Reply