This Day in Failure, November 18


Another day in Failure.  

2008: Two Quantus 747’s being towed to a maintenance hangar at Melbourne, Australia’s Avalon Airport collide on the tarmac. The nose cone of one plane caves in when it strikes and dents the left wing of the other. One of the jets had suffered major structural damage four months earlier when a midair explosion ripped a hole in its fuselage.

2008: Sen. Ted Stevens, 85, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly loses his re-election bid to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, punctuating the downfall of an Alaska icon who couldn’t survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. Days before the election, Stevens was convicted of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.

2008: A briefcase-sized tool bag becomes untethered and drifts away from shuttle Endeavour astronaut and lead spacewalker Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper as she cleans and lubes a gummed-up joint on a wing of solar panels on the international space station. The tool bag is one of the largest items ever lost by a spacewalker.

2007: Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace Quaid—the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly—are twice injected with a massive overdose of the blood thinner heparin at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The “preventable error” is attributed, in part, to the fact that ten-unit vials and ten-thousand-unit vials of the drug were both of the same size and shape and both had blue labels—one light and the other dark. At the time of the Quaid overdose the potential to mistake the two vials was well known, and while Baxter Healthcare (the maker of Heparin) had already changed the labels on the stronger dose to red, it neglected to recall the old vials. The infants were given a drug to reverse the effects of the heparin and spent 11 days in intensive care before making what appears to be a complete recovery. 

1999: Twelve students and former students are killed and 27 others are injured when an enormous stack of logs collapses during the construction of the “Bonfire” at Texas A&M University, a 90-year tradition in which Aggie students would build and light a bonfire in anticipation of the annual football game against the University of Texas. The accident leads the university to declare a hiatus on Bonfire.

1978: Jim Jones, cult leader of The People’s Temple commune in Guyana, initiates a mass suicide among his followers ordering them to drink cyanide-laced punch. The death toll of 913 includes 276 children, with Jones dying of a gunshot wound to the head.

1958: The 638-foot cargo freighter Carl D. Bradley snaps in two during a violent storm and sinks to the bottom of Lake Michigan, claiming the lives of 33 of the 35 men on board.