DEAR ABBY: "Help!" "I can't breathe!" "Get them to stop pushing!" "This is insane!" were the cries heard in Sheffield, England, on Saturday, April 15, when 93 people were killed and more than 200 injured by an unruly mob at a soccer game. These were also the cries heard by me at a rock concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that same day when hundreds of unruly fans rushed the stage. One story made headlines, but the other easily could have.
The auditorium was overflowing with what must have been a double-capacity crowd. Some fans were seated comfortably at the rear of the hall, but hundreds were pressed forward against the stage by throngs of enthusiastic fans in the back, hell-bent on getting closer to the performers. Speaking as an unfortunate member of that audience, I can tell you that it was an unnerving ordeal. Bodies were pressed so tightly together that breathing was difficult and it was stiflingly hot. Crazed kids (either stoned or high) began pushing others around them, thus sparking off a potentially lethal chain reaction.Appeals to security personnel at the auditorium to do something about the situation produced no results; neither did a call to the fire department. There should have been far fewer tickets sold and far more security people present to control the crowd. It is true that no one died in Santa Monica that night. The floodgates may have held this time, but they may not always. And while the concert promoters in Santa Monica count their dollars, in Sheffield they count their dead. - TYLER FOSHE, SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.
DEAR TYLER: Thanks for your letter. It answered the questions that occurred to many: How could this bizarre tragedy have occurred? And what can we do to prevent it from happening again?
DEAR ABBY: I'm a different drummer, marching to the same beat as "Losing Patience," who resented questions from strangers wanting to know why her infant daughter was wearing eyeglasses. Strangers noticed my baby, too. But I felt blessed.
My son was born with club feet. We were living in Brazil but were told that a doctor in New York was "the best" in this field, so I took my baby to New York. For nine months we rode the commuter train from Chappaqua to New York City twice a week for treatments.
I had heard how "cold" New Yorkers were, but no one had better say that around me. Abby, in the nine months I was there, not once did I have to open a door when I had my baby in my arms. Total strangers gave up their cabs for me during the rush hour; businessmen I had never seen before juggled their briefcases to carry my baby up a flight of stairs. Those small favors and words of encouragement to a stranger alone gave me beautiful memories of a trying time.
To all who patted his curly blond hair: He's 31 now and a remarkable athlete. So, to all you warmhearted New Yorkers, thanks for caring! - JANE WALLER, CONROE, TEXAS
DEAR JANE: Thanks for sharing your positive experience in New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Congratulations.
DEAR ABBY: In response to "Losing Patience": When my son was 21/2 years old, he had to wear a patch over one eye temporarily to strengthen the other eye. One day while pushing him in a cart through a grocery store, a man with a bushy mustache stopped us and asked, "What's wrong with that boy's eye?" I explained and we went our separate ways.
When we were out of earshot of the man, my son asked, "Mama, what's wrong with that man's mouth?" (He had never seen a mus-tache before.) - BEEN THERE