Timmy Williams was a seemingly responsible high school graduate with a steady job, a young man respected and loved by many people.
What gremlin would possess him to do such a dangerous thing?
When I read of Timmy's death, I had a flashback to my own experiences on High Bridge.
In the 1970's the railroad discouraged pedestrians on the bridge, but it was not uncommon for my friends, even adults, to take the exhilarating catwalk out to the middle.
No fences had yet been erected, and a simple "enter at your own risk" sign seemed enough to deter most responsible citizens.
Huge pop rivets made the narrow walkway hazardous, and I remember my too-tight grip on the hand rail and the rush of adrenaline when the height became dizzying.
Most terrifying of all was the day when the drone of a train whistle warned of approaching danger.
I had heard wild stories of the swaying, shaking bridge as a train crossed, the suction and deafening noise, so I ran for safe ground.
Only after successfully navigating the catwalk, sliding down the gravel embankment, and trembling with relief as the train passed did I realize the stupid chance I had taken.
I thanked God and my Guardian Angel, and never again tempted them with such foolishness.
But I never would have dreamed of climbing on the girders underneath.
Thirty years of culture change have led to the era when young men idolize x-gamers, Hollywood stunt men, and MTV amateurs aptly named after donkey's behinds. The more dangerous the stunt, the more glory, and the more hits on YouTube. We are in love with risk-taking, extreme sports and cheating death. The new, yet old, mantra is "Can you top this?"
Recently on High Bridge, for one young man, the final answer to that question was given.
In the chase for the cheap thrill, the adrenaline high, and the ecstasy of heart-pumping fear, perhaps we have devalued the most powerful buzz: a happy home, hugs from a loving family, and the joy of simply breathing. Mothers know these things.