Clearly one Hamptons resident was not paying attention when told many times over about the dangers of staring into the sun during Monday’s solar eclipse. To the horror of several people standing nearby on Coopers Beach, Southampton tech consultant Bennet LaFlamme’s eyes exploded into jets of fire moments after he exclaimed, “Those eclipse glasses are a total marketing ploy,” and turned his gaze toward the waning sun.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” a shocked onlooker said, recalling a “sizzle and pop” before LaFlamme’s screams drowned out any other sounds. “I thought the news, not to mention every person I know, was pretty clear about the whole ‘don’t look at the sun’ thing,” the witness added, shaking her head in disbelief. “But no one could have expected something like this to happen.”
LaFlamme’s injuries were grievous, to be sure, but area EMTs say they are not life threatening. “Mr. LaFlamme will never see again, but he’ll live,” an ambulance volunteer reported at the scene. “I expect the victim will be in shape to do more stupid things this fall,” the EMT said. “He should be ignoring hurricane evacuation orders or driving down dune road when it’s flooded in no time—and we’ll be ready to use community resources and risk our necks to save him.”
Friends say LaFlamme had indeed tried to get a set of eclipse glasses, but found them impossible to acquire on the East End, aside from one maniac selling a pair for $100 on Bonac Yard Sale just as the astronomical event began. “Bennet is not keen on price gouging, and he’s never entirely trusted what he hears on TV news,” a childhood pal pointed out. “He said the danger of looking at the eclipse was ‘fake news’ and probably a construct of a strained eclipse glasses industry,” he continued. “Eclipses aren’t exactly common, are they? It’s not like needing new dental floss—how does that industry survive anyway?”
According to Hamptons Police Department and local EMTs, LaFlamme was the only genius to try watching the eclipse without protection. Even if someone tried, it was too bright to see anything—not that we tried. OK, fine, we tried. It was impossible.