A Plane Crash in Liberty Township, Ohio: The pathetic display of the Butler County police

A couple of pilots in a stunt biplane crashed practically into the back yard of one of my children over the weekend killing both aviators in a raging inferno.  I thought most of the people interviewed in the media circus afterward were well-mannered, and even intelligent about the whole issue describing that the plane had been performing stunts and had been engaged in a backward stall never pulling out of the dive that followed.  The plane could have crashed into any of the densely packed homes in the neighborhood behind Wyandot Elementary but somehow the pilot managed to thread a needle flying between two houses before smashing into the ground in a backyard space only clipping away part of a garage.  The pilot had to know that he was going to die at such a speed but had the courage and wherewithal to maintain his cool saving the lives of the people inside.  Given that my kids were in the proximity I’d have every excuse to panic about such a thing—but I never do.  I enjoy those kinds of pilots and love watching them practicing stunts.  I want to see them continue.  If something goes wrong—like it did in this case the pilot did the responsible thing and minimized the damage.  The two pilots ended up burning up beyond recognition but turned a situation that could have been a lot worse into a minimal amount of damage that was pretty easily cleaned up.

However, the display of the police was pathetic.  It looked like every police officer in Butler County was at the scene and they stood around most of the day following the tragedy.  It looked like a beauty pageant of fat-gutted middle-aged men parading around on a catwalk trying to impress the audience with their authority.  The family in the house that was most in danger was eating breakfast and managed to get out of the house after the crash without any help from any authorities.  The fire department showed up within about 5 minutes to put out the fire—which is expected given that Liberty Township has a fire department every couple of miles holding a bunch of public servants always sitting around waiting for something to happen.  In this case they were needed and the danger was averted within 15 minutes of the crash.  But then came the police who showed up on the scene and brought with them a level of panic that was totally uncalled for.

Of course they started putting up blankets so that people surrounding the area couldn’t see the carnage and they quarantined a section of the neighborhood limiting the freedom of the homes not involved in the plane crash.  The entire escapade was entirely self-serving for the police.  It gave them something to do on a Saturday morning in Liberty Township and they seemed to enjoy the heightened drama too much.  Essentially, a plane crashed, the pilot steered away from the danger as best he could.  The fire department put out the fire, and the coroner pronounced the deaths using dental records to identify the victims.  All that was left after was for the FAA to do their investigation and clean up the mess letting the insurance companies cover the damage to the homes so that the residents could get back to their lives.  End of story.  But no, the police had to make the whole scene appear that a new virus had been unleashed upon the earth and that the crash site had become a quarantine zone that aliens might emerge from at any minute.

It was a rather disgusting displaying showing the gross over-employment of police in Butler County.  There were too many at the site leaving the question to be asked—what do they all do when there isn’t a plane crash in the normally quiet community of Liberty Township?  Because at the crash site there wasn’t much to do and they pretty much stood around all day trying to look important.  On a normal Saturday where have all these police been hiding because they certainly aren’t necessary?

The whole crash could have been handled with a handful of government employees, a small investigation team and the coroner.  The rest of the neighborhood could have gotten back to their business of an early weekend morning in the fall within an hour, mowing their grass, cleaning their garages, and living their lives as normal.  The media could have taken their pictures and been done by noon.  Yet the police overdramatized the entire incident making the media even more dramatic standing between photographers and the crash like protective parents securing the serenity of small children not yet ready to see the gross realities of the world.  It was as if we were all small children going to the movies with a panicky parent afraid to let us see images on the screen that were too violent afraid that we’d have bad dreams after.  Their censorship was over dramatized and unnecessary illuminating their useless employment to a great extent.

The crash wasn’t that big of a deal.  Sure people lost their lives, but likely that is the way pilots like that want to leave the world and they did their best with the situation until their last breath.  Likely I have watched the stunts in the sky from that very same pilot many times and enjoyed it—and I’d like to continue to see them from other pilots who often practice flying over Liberty Township using the Butler County Regional Airport as a staging ground.  There is nothing about that crash that would cause me to feel otherwise.  Sometimes bad things happen, but most of the time they don’t—and those times are worth the danger.  But the display of public employees trying to look important at the crash site was grossly evident.  They had the same fake pretension that is seen at fashion shows where 19-year-old girls are dressed up for an evening on the town only to sell cloths to fat, overly stressed women who look nothing like the girls at the show.  The police were only selling an image of security as the danger had already come and gone—but because they had nothing else to do.  They knew the media would flock to the scene, it was a chance for them to look important for the cameras—and that is all they really did.

Rich Hoffman