[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/13/plane.crash.new.york/art.firefighters.wgrz.jpg caption="Firefighters from nine volunteer fire departments battled the flames at the crash site. "]
AC360° Associate Producer
I had just sat down at 12:30am to write my Friday blog when I got an email from AC360° Executive Producer Kathleen Friery: “You up? Plane crash. May need you to come back in.” I started to get ready. Confirmation that I was needed back at CNN’s New York headquarters came moments later.
I said goodbye to my dog, ran out of my apartment and hailed a cab. “Columbus Circle,” I said, “as fast as you can.”
“Did you hear about the plane crash?” I asked my cab driver. He hadn’t.
As we sped uptown I dialed into the network-wide conference call that goes into effect during breaking news. Reports from the scene indicated everyone on board and one person on the ground had died. 50 souls.
Anderson was already there by the time I got back to CNN. At that point coverage was being run out of our Atlanta headquarters with help from our upstate New York affiliates. We made final preparations for Anderson to take over the coverage from New York.
The network was quickly mobilizing staff and resources but because of the time of night we didn’t immediately have a full staff on hand. For a while I was playing the roles of producer, camera operator and audio technician. Meantime, colleagues in New York, Atlanta, Washington and points elsewhere were teaming up to make our coverage the most thorough and accurate it could be.
As Anderson said on the air, in situations like these information comes in rapidly and frequently changes. Thus, caution is essential. The last thing we want is to add to people’s grief by broadcasting misinformation.
In the midst of it all, I tried to wrap my mind around what had happened. Tried but failed. That kind of tragedy is unimaginable. To lose a loved one in that way is not just unfair it’s cruel. Those people didn’t do anything. They didn’t deserve to die. Just like that. Gone forever. Their families left behind with lifelong voids in their hearts.
At 3am we moved our location from the newsroom set upstairs to our main studio. We stayed on the air until handing off to the American Morning team at 4am.
For us, an exhausting night had come to an end. But for the families and friends of those on board Flight 3407, a devastating journey was just beginning.
I left the CNN building shortly thereafter and headed home….my mind on those who perished and their dreams that shall go unfulfilled.
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