NEW HAVEN — A Yale University student from Massachusetts died in an accident Tuesday night at the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, Yale officials said Wednesday.
Michele Dufault’s hair got caught in a lathe, a piece of machinery that spins very quickly, and it pulled her in, sources said. The state medical examiner’s office reported that Dufault died from accidental asphyxia by neck compression.
You take a young girl with little or no real experience around power machinery, no real operating instructions other than perhaps how to turn it off and on, no classes on safety procedures, and let her loose alone on something like a shop lathe in the middle of the night(she was found at around 2 AM), and these results are - as I said - sad, but not surprising.
Take even a small electric hand drill and have the bit twist itself into your clothing. The result is frightening and unnerving.
More than 150 people gathered to remember the young woman, recalling her "warm and welcoming smile and brilliant, curious intellect". Seems that perhaps brilliant intellect is not enough to keep one alive if there is no common sense involved. Common sense would have warned this girl that leaning into a spinning lathe with extremely long and loose hair was a formula for disaster.
Yale President Richard C. Levin, in a statement issued Wednesday evening, called the incident “a true tragedy,” and said he is initiating a “thorough review of the safety policies and practices of laboratories, machine shops, and other facilities with power equipment that is accessed and operated by undergraduates.”
No kidding. This was far more than just “a true tragedy”. It was an accident waiting to happen. I worked in several different government laboratories and facilities (LANL, SSCL, PMR, WSMR) where these college types were in close proximity to dangerous equipment. It was my experience that most of those brilliant intellectuals with all those high IQ's couldn't find their ass with both hands when it comes to operating power equipment. Most of them shouldn't even be allowed near a hammer.
And allowing one of them - particularly a long-haired school girl - near a operating lathe alone should be considered as criminal negligence.
This incident graphically demonstrates how an intellectual can fool themselves into thinking and believing that - because they are smart - they can do anything that all those lesser humans out there in flyover country can do.
I may seem a bit harsh here. It was a horrible way to die. But sooner or later it must be realized by everyone that these Harvard/Yale types may be smart as hell and unbeatable in some areas, but in many others they can't be trusted to be better, smarter, faster... Because they are not.