The Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio and its horrifying aftermath are already grim enough — but a bizarre coincidence in the town where it happened makes the tragic saga seem almost stranger than fiction.
As CNN reports, the meta twist is that one of the families affected by the derailed train that contained loads of hazardous, flammable chemicals acted as extras in Netflix's 2022 movie "White Noise," which follows a family as it copes with the aftermath of an eerily similar noxious disaster.
Based on a 1985 novel by Pulitzer finalist Don DeLillo, the black comedy stars Adam Driver as the patriarch of a family as they deal with the fallout from an "airborne toxic event" spurred on by a train crash carrying — you guessed it — a bunch of dangerous chemicals. East Palestine, Ohio resident and "White Noise" extra Ben Ratner says that the film, in which he and his own family played bit roles, now hits "too close to home."
While the similarities end at the premise — Driver's "White Noise" character, for instance, is forced to quarantine after being exposed to the chemical cloud from that story's derailment, while in real life officials have declared that the controlled burn of vinyl chloride from the train could have been much more dangerous than it turned out to be — they're nevertheless analogous enough to cause discomfort.
"The first half of the movie is all almost exactly what’s going on here," Ratner, who was in a climactic traffic jam scene in the film, told CNN after his family, which includes his wife and four children — the same number of family members as "White Noise" — were forced to flee their home near the crash site.
The Ohioan café owner told CNN that he'd been at his daughter's basketball game during the derailment, stepping outside the school's gymnasium to towering flames at the crash site less than a mile from his own house. That night, while his wife and kids slept, he anxiously stayed awake to see what would happen next.
It wasn't until the next day that official evacuation orders came down for those within a roughly one-by-two-mile area of the region that sits on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania — and even though most of the Ratners had gone to stay with nearby family, they had to evacuate even farther because they were still within that zone.
Ratner told the local broadcaster WKBN that he waited a few days after the evacuation order was lifted to take his family back to their house. Now, concerns about long-term dangers have led the family to consider leaving the area for good.
"That’s where we’ve been raising our kids, finishing college, buying a business, and that’s been our place," he told CNN. “In the future, are we going to have to sell the house? Is it worth any money at this point?”
It's too soon to say what will happen in the "White Noise"-esque situation in East Palestine — but it's clear that some of the affected families won't wait around to find out.
More on toxic accidents: Miners Say "Sorry" for Losing Highly Radioactive Object Along Highway
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