Editor's Note: To see more accounts from covering the breaking news of the crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside Buffalo, N.Y., click here.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/13/plane.crash.witnesses/art.woodruff.irpt.jpg caption="Bright flames obscured everything around the crash site, as iReporter Valerie Woodruff's photo shows."]
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer
Our program, Anderson Cooper 360°, had finished up Thursday night before we even heard that a plane had crashed outside Buffalo. In fact, many of us were already home.
I had arrived home around midnight and checked my blackberry before hitting the sack, as most of us do. There were 3 emails, so I didn't think much, until I saw the CNN BREAKING NEWS email. After reading "A Continental plane has crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York," I immediately called into Atlanta to see what I could do to help. The supervising producer told me that they wanted Anderson to come back in to anchor and asked if I could head up our guest bookings.
You see, CNN International was up and running, but the guest producer on duty at that point was in Hong Kong. I knew it'd be difficult for her to get interviews lined up quickly in Buffalo, and I also knew that I could help since I had unfortunately covered many crashes in the past 10 years.
I called Executive Producer Kathleen Friery and told her the latest. As I changed out of my volleyball clothes into something a bit more suitable for the office, I got confirmation that Anderson was on his way in, so I ran outside and hailed a cab. I made it to Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in 7 minutes. There is a bar across the street where some 360 staffers hang out after work, so I made an educated guess and found one of our video producers, Ashley, and a graphics producer, Kelly, in there. I begged them to come back in and help, and showed them the blackberry email to prove this was no joke.
As I came into our building, I called a former pilot who has been on 360 before, and his answer was priceless, "What took you so long?" He ended up staying with us throughout the 3 hours we were on air. Between making calls and gathering information for Anderson, I hopped onto a network conference call to plan our coverage.
As with any breaking news story, I found the hard reality of the story hit around an hour after I get home and decompress. I finally fell asleep around 6am after thinking about all the people I spoke with and those I didn't reach. I do think, as TV news people, some of us we go into a mode where we just do the job until we hand off to the next team. That was the case overnight, and on Friday I saw pictures from the scene and heard interviews of loved ones, eyewitnesses and others as if they were new.
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