Posted on in Todd Talks by Todd Johnson

One of the greatest tragedies of all time is the sinking of the Titanic in April of 1912. It’s a story we are all familiar with and many books, movies and television programs have been made documenting the disaster. But these programs often focus on how the ship sank, how many people died, or the long search for the wreckage. I always wondered about the people that survived.

It’s widely known that the Carpathia was the ship that eventually responded to the Titanic’s distress calls. By the time the ship arrived, about 710 survivors were transferred to the Carpathia from the lifeboats aimlessly drifting about in the freezing northern Atlantic. Of those 710, only 5 were pulled into lifeboats from the water. The water was so cold, that death was swift. Hypothermia was not the main cause of death, rather, it was cardiac arrest or uncontrollable breathing in of water. Sadly, most would perish in mere minutes of hitting the water. All told 1517 people died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic that morning. But it probably didn’t need to be that way.

As the crew aboard the Titanic began to grasp the severity of their situation, they would send distress calls and shoot their flares. The Carpathia, which would eventually respond to the distress calls was about 58 miles to the south and didn’t arrive on the scene until almost 4:00 a.m., almost 6 hours after the Titanic struck the iceberg. The Carpathia would travel at top speed through dangerous conditions to attempt a rescue and they no doubt saved many lives. But the most shocking thing to me is the actions of another ship that night.

The SS California was in contact with the Titanic earlier that evening, sending warning of ice in the area. This warning was undelivered in a series of terrible and completely avoidable mistakes. But while it was commendable for the California to send those warnings, she sat idle while the Titanic sank. What is even worse is that the California was only about 6 miles north of the Titanic and even saw the distress flares and the lights from the doomed ship. But being surrounded by ice, the captain deemed it too dangerous to respond. Who knows how many more people could have been saved if the captain of the California had half the courage of the captain of the Carpathia?

This is a lesson we should all take in. Sometimes we need to take a chance, step out of our comfort zones and make a daring rescue. It may not be life or death situations like the Titanic, but maybe you have knowledge that could help someone avoid a dangerous situation, or if we simply pay attention to those around us, we can make a positive impact on the world.

In a world of Californias, be a Carpathia.