Six Kids Die: Why?,2933,53236,00.html

In the past month, six students have died in a small Pennsylvania town with a population of less than 20,000. At least one died from an unknown cause, and others from conditions that are considered rare and in their cases probably weren’t genetically inherited?

What do you think is causing this?

Seems quite strange, but I feel that it’s probably just an uncanny and tragic coincidence.

I read about this as a statistical phenomenon in one of those “power lines cause cancer” lawsuits. In a nation of this size, a statistical anomaly like that will eventually happen. It’s just a matter of when and where.

It’s odd, but none of the ailments seem to have anything in common. These things can happen anywhere, anytime. It’s probably just coincidence that there has been a cluster.

Two weeks ago in my mother’s old hometown (population 4000), a 17 year old girl dropped dead on the basketball court of a heart attack. Not only did she have no history of heart disease, but she was fit and healthy, the daughter of the local gymnastics teacher. Tragic, unexpected, and not at all unlike the deaths in the story. Sometimes these bad things just happen. Sometimes a lot of them happen close together.

The “key” is supposed to be the school. The story says a 5 year old died of a rare lung condition after a lung transplant in 1999. That means she was 2 years old when she needed the transplant and wouldn’t have been a student at the school. It feels like a bit of a stretch to think that she was killed by something at the school.

Almost all kids attend school. This district has one school that houses all year levels. Concluding that the school must be to blame seems overly simplistic. To me, it seems like concluding that water causes cancer because everyone who has ever had cancer has consumed water at some point in time. The fact that everyone drinks water is going to mess with the statistic a little.

I have mixed feelings on these statistical anomalies. On one hand, if a local polluter is dumping large amounts of known carcinogens into the water supply, and lots of people are getting the same (rare, maybe) form of cancer, you probably have a lawsuit in the making.

On the other hand…

I’m a craps dealer. I work with what basically amounts to cube-shaped random number generators. I’ve seen the dice roll clusters of aces back to back with twelve (with dealer bets on the hi-lo, we scored big that night), then a couple of numbers, then another hi-lo cluster. To put things in perspective, aces, or twelve (or any given hardway, for that matter) has a one in thirty-six chance of winning, so to have them each hit twice in the space of four rolls… well, I don’t know the exact odds, but it’s pretty astronomical. So, yeah, it is possible in a random sequence of events to have clusters of statistically rare things happen in roughly the same time and place, without any external cause. It just happens.

I live only 40 miles south of Enola where East Pensboro school is located. I have a friend who knew the one kid who died from an anuerism (sp?). The reason why the parents are saying it is an environmental problem in the town or in the school is because even though only 6 kids have died, there are more sick ones that haven’t. Kids there are always sick.

from the news story:
"Did Lee die sooner than he should have?" she asks. "From what I’m told, there are a lot of sick children here.

Influenzas, strep throat, a weird pink eye. There is just something not right there.

Also, don’t let the “small town” tag fool you. That school district is right across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg. 5 minutes, and I could be inside the city limits. Harrisburg is not a “small town”, it’s the friggin’ state capitol. Also the home of a little nuclear reactor called “Three Mile Island”. Ring any bells?

Actually, you should expect these types of events .

For example, I would expect a daily distribution of roullette outcomes to show that some numbers came out frequently, when others barely came out.

When looking for cancer distribution, I would expect to see clusters of cancer in some areas, while other areas had little or none.

Distribution doesn’t imply consistent well spaced events.
Somewhat similar note: Weathermen/women…they love to say things like, “Today, it’ll be a little cool. We will hit a high of 68 degrees, which is below or normal average of 71 degress.”

DUH! The average of 71 degrees is from having days that are cooler and warmer than 71…it does not imply that we should expect it to be 71 !

So, for dieases that affect 1.2% of the population, we can expect some areas to have a higher rate…even much higher…and some to have a lower rate…even much lower…so that the average is 1.2%…but that does not imply we should expect a disease rate to be 1.2% everywhere.

Big Sam where do you live? I live in Swatara Township, near I-83 and Union Deposit Road.

It is strange that this is happening and tragic for the families and friends of these children. The state environmental department has tested the buildings and today’s news reported that the school district is going to hire a contractor to do more detailed testing in the high school building to see if there’s something going on.

My opinion is that it is simply a tragic statistical anomaly. Enola is right across the river from Harrisburg and north of Three Mile Island, but I don’t think TMI had anything to do with these deaths. These kids died from different causes, and while at least two of them (I believe) suffered from cancer, the others died of other illnesses or medical problems. And while Enola has been hit hard, these kinds of situations are not arising in the towns closer to Three Mile Island, like Middletown (which is situated on the river next to TMI), and Steelton.

So yeah, my money is on this being a tragic statistical hiccup.

Three people from my company have died during the last year, all of them tragically young, in separate and unrelated incidents (I stole tuna from one of them). Solo motorcycle crash, brain haemmorage, and the latest was hit by a truck while on his pedal bike.

Only twenty people work here, and not a single person has ever died in the previous 8 companies I’ve worked in, some of which had 250+ employees.

It’s just weird coincidence, and shit happens.

According to the spew on the local airwaves, actually three of these kids had life-threatening conditions, so in all, I’d only be a little concerned.

This has ‘clustering’ all over it.

This is wholly unscientific and based solely on personal experience, so (as you can see) I am fully aware how “iffy” this is.

BUT…here’s a thought anyway.

My parents are the first of their generation to leave a small southern Ohio town that has a large iron and coal industry. The city smells like burnt hair, or somewhat like my gas stove when the pilot does ignite. Yech. Of the generation remaining in the area, 100% of the women on my mother’s side have had some form of cancer (colon, rectal, breast, and uterine). My mother, who has not lived in the area for 40 years, has not had any such problems. My mother’s only male relative, her father, had some small melonomas and died from congestive heart failure.

That kind of anomaly has made all members of the family wonder if there just isn’t something in the air there. I’d be curious to see health pattern studies of the area.