The night the Red Sox won the ALCS, 80,000 Bostonian fans swelled the streets around Fenway, and a police officer fired a pepper ball into a part of the crowd. The marble-sized pepper ball -- that travels about 300 feet per second -- is said to have struck a woman in the eye. By the accounts I can find, the woman fell to the ground and was reported to be bleeding from her nose, at least. She died hours later at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
How did she die?
I flipped through the thousand articles Google lists about this event, and there is no clue. No one even really raises the question.
My first observation is that every article on the internet is basically a copy of every other article, with no new information and no intelligent assessment of the incident by someone who might have an independent neuron lurking in his pathologically plagiaristic brain. After reading ten or twelve accounts of the incident I stopped. They were all the same.
Second observation is that the news media are not interested in the truth, or any resemblance thereof. They want to rile up the public against traditional liberal foes such as the police, guns, government, you name it. So the articles all kind of gloss over the actual shooting and jump right to blaming the police, the pepper ball spray company and the mayor. But public drunkenness during the World Series -- that's got to be protected! Isn't that a Constitutional right somewhere?
On to the CSI part:
Here is a paintball and if you want to loook at a pdf the pepper-spray-ball companies use to sell these weapons, go here.
The focus of most of the news articles about this incident is either on police brutality, whether or not Red Sox fans can get publically drunk during the World Series, or on just how unsafe nonlethal weapons are.
Poor and unoriginal reporting aside, how did this girl die?
I’ve seen a lot of projectile-to-eyeball injuries, but I have NEVER seen anyone die from it. In general, this type of injury produces a blow-out fracture of the orbit, but death? That’s a stretch. Obviously, the mechanism can be inferred with transmission of pressure posteriorly through the globe, through the posterior orbit and through the optic canal and superior orbital fissure, and the implication is that there will therefore be disruption of cranial nerves and cerebral damage, but, in one major study of paintball injuries to the eye, by Daniel Listman in the Journal Pediatrics, of 149 paintball injuries reported in children, none had death as an outcome and in their seminal 1985 article Easterbrook and Pashby first reported severe eye injuries related to war games, describing, according to Listman:
26 injuries seen by Canadian ophthalmologists. In 1988, they expanded their cadre of injured patients to 44. These included 17 cases that resulted in blind eyes. The specific injuries included 38 hyphemas, 13 cataracts, 24 retinal injuries, and 2 ruptured globes.
The reason trauma to the globe does not cause death can be derived from standard evolutionary principles. Surely if this mechanism (direct blow to the globe) were fatal, our eyes would have developed behind calcium cages; however, the solution evolution worked out was to create a relatively closed-pressure chamber (the retro orbital space) with thin walls so that any backward-directed force on the globe would “blow out” one of the thin surrounding walls rather than direct the force posteriorly to the central cerebral structures. So by teleological reasoning, the woman shot in the eye with an exploding pepper ball should not have died.
That's the real news story here.
So how did she die?
Was she just catastrophically unlucky (making her survivors perfect clients for John Edwards)?
Was she allergic to capsicum?
Was she taking or using any other medications or substances?
Did she have any preexisting illnesses or conditions?
Why did it take so long for her to die (hours later at Brigham)?
What was the coroner's "cause of death"
Why don't the media really care about the truth and uncovering the truth rather than looking for a quick encapsulated story that sets up the usual suspects and victims like we were all part of some repetitive television soap opera that only happens one way, all the time?
The medblogs are called to action on this.