I didn't sleep much Sunday night. My mind was still trying to wrap itself around the crash of Comair flight 5191 shortly after it took off from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., early Sunday morning. I guess that's what happens when you live and cover the news somewhere for more than two years. When you see something horrible happen there and start thinking about what you would be doing if you were still there, it's tough to get out of your head.
Many of you probably spent at least part of Sunday watching the coverage of the crash. As soon as I heard about it just after 9 a.m., I knew my plans to run some errands during the day were not gonna happen. By lunchtime I found out my old station was streaming its wall-to-wall coverage live on the Internet. I was glued to it until they went off the air and I tried to go to bed at 7 p.m. They did an incredible job. And they certainly did a difficult job. One of the anchors fought to keep composure while passing along news that someone she knew was killed on the flight. A photographer friend of mine said he and his reporter found themselves crying out in the field while watching that part of the coverage.
To say the least, I am certainly glad I was not there. Stories like that are tough to cover, and I'm not just talking about how difficult it can be to get information. It's quite emotional, especially if you are assigned to try and talk to friends and family. The guy who works my old shift at LEX18 News in Lexington had the unenviable task of spending Sunday outside the hotel where victims' families were taken. Just hearing him describe how emotional they seemed from a distance was tough.
What's strange is that some people are critical of the way news outlets cover events like this. Some people find the wall-to-wall coverage from various locations and vantage points to be too much. They may even see the reporters as hungry vultures. But believe me, I can tell you from experience that most of the reporters would rather be anywhere but covering such a terrible event. Oh, sure. There's a bit of an adrenaline rush when you're covering something like that. There's certainly the feeling that you're fulfilling your commitment to serve the viewing audience by bringing them information. But we'd trade it all in for the alternative.
Watching the coverage yesterday, I thought back to stories like that I covered: a train crash, tornadoes, a firefighter shot and killed on duty. Long days physically and especially mentally and emotionally. Days you dread. I know for my friends back in Lexington Sunday was just the first of many draining days. My thoughts are with them as they deal with the emotional toll the crash will have on the community.
I also thought of all the times I've flown in and out of Lexington; how routine all those flights were. That's probably the same thing most of the people aboard flight 5191 thought as they taxied along the tarmac around 6 a.m. Sunday. Seconds later, though, they were gone. It's a reminder of just how fleeting life can be.
While my mind still reels about what happened Sunday, I know I must focus on things here in North Carolina. While we hope for the best, the tenuous track of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ernesto could mean long days for all of us.
By: Kevin Wuzzardo