Teenager hit by train, was texting and listening to music (Bruised Orange)

I was moved by this news today,

Boy, 14, killed by train in Covina apparently while texting, listening to music
"A 14-year-old boy's life was cut short in a train accident in Covina on Wednesday. Mitchal Sata of Glendora was killed when he was struck by a Metrolink train traveling east along Glendora Avenue at 48 mph in the evening. Investigators said it appears Sata had his headphones in listening to music as he was walking along Glendora Avenue. Tracy Aaron Anderson, Sata's mother, said a witness told her the boy may have also been texting at the time. "She said that he stopped, hesitated for a moment, then when she looked again he was gone," Anderson said. "She was on the other side and I assume that's when he was struck by the train." Anderson says her son was a good kid with a big heart."

This unfortunate incident made me think of another long-ago incident that John Prine sang about, in a song called Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow). He sings of an incident that occurred where an altar boy who wasn't paying attention, was walking along the tracks and was hit by a commuter that was comin' so slow...

He tells the story behind the song here.

The song deals with senseless tragedy, made all the more bruising when it occurs unexpectedly and worse, upon a child.

We ask, why was a three-year-old mugged in his stroller? The mom who is a witness said the men who tried to take her son's necklace laughed at her mockingly. She said they would have taken her son just for the necklace if neighbors hadn't scared them off. Why did a woman break into a house, nail the doors shut and hide in a closet, holding scissors? Police say it is the most bizarre case they have ever seen.

Why are people so broken? Why do these things happen? People have been asking that, and singing about that, since sin began on earth.

We have a hard time understanding why bad things happen to good people.

But is anyone good? No. We might more properly ask why do good things happen to bad people.

Prine sang, "You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder, throw your hands in the air, say 'What does it matter?' but it don't do no good to get angry."

Why? because "a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter." The life we have on earth is a hard, awful sinful, broken one. If not in Christ, it is inexplicable that a boy should be hit by a train in broad daylight, in 2010 or in 1977. It seems inexplicable that this would happen or that would happen, but life on earth means sudden tragedy. That's it. It will happen. Our only hope is in Jesus, who offers a better life.

Our life in Christ is a joy, but even believers moan at the weight of trains barreling down to take a life right in front of us. We can't let the bitterness overcome us. Each moment on earth is a blessing from Jesus, who allows all life to come and allows all life to go. (Job 1:18; Luke 13:4).

If we ask why bad things happen to good people we might get wrapped up in a chain of sorrow that has no end. If we ask why good things happen to bad people we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who is the 100% example of all Good, and to whom we belong, and will be living with in eternal joy someday.

If you are not in Christ, these days of sudden tragedy, criminals mocking, bizarre events, and strange intrusions need not trouble you as much as if you are not in Christ. He will accept your repentance of your sins and will open your eyes to the difference between what seeming 'good' on earth is and the real good, of heaven and His temple.


  1. It is also interesting that Covina is known for some of the best oranges in the world.
    We have had a number of incidents in the recent weeks in Maine involving texting and auto accidents.
    Heartbreaking to lose a child.

    1. Prine sang about how we carry those bruises wherever we go. But in Jesus, we need not let our fruit rot, He will restore us, brush us off, and send us out again. I was moved to tears just thinking of the mother who looked back and did not see her son. Heartbreaking. I pray they know Christ to get them through this time. If not, I pray there is a believer in their circle who will share Christ at this time...


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