January 16th, 2009
08:49 PM ET

A plane bobbing in the river, and what it means

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/16/hudson.plane.crash/art.battery.gi.jpg caption="The disabled Airbus A320 is nearly submerged Friday as it is moored near New York's Battery Park City."]
Brian Vitagliano
CNN Field Producer

When news of a “plane down” in the Hudson River broke, everyone in the CNN New York Newsroom went into breaking news mode. From the Bureau Chief to producers to news assistants everyone picked up the phones and the coordination began. Being a CNN field producer I was eager to get out of the door and start reporting, I also knew the temperature was in the teens and wind chills in the single digits. With producers, reporters and live trucks dispatched to the scene and to various hospitals around the city, I wanted to make myself as useful as possible.

I picked up my gear - a Sony A1U video camera, Apple Mac Book and a wireless Air Card - and headed out the door. Often when you’re a one man/woman band you are able to be more nibble and find access to places and people a larger crew may not. At first I didn’t think it was that cold, but when I got to 43rd street and the West Side Highway, the wind whipping off the Hudson just cut right through me. My first thought was, how are these passengers going to survive without frostbite and, most frightening, hypothermia. I maneuvered through EMS, OEM, NYPD and FDNY trucks and tape to the pier where some of the passengers of flight 1549 were being treated and then taken to the hospital.

Our CNN live truck was further down the West Side Highway and cabling to my location for a live signal was not possible. With my hands getting numb I attempted setting up my DNG (Digital News Gathering) equipment up for live capability. It's essentially a laptop that can transmit to a satellite. Albert Lewitinn, a senior producer for Campbell Brown's "No Bias No Bull" was actually off yesterday, but being the solid journalist he is, he heard the news and made his way down to the site to lend a hand. I had Albert grab the camera as I worked the laptop, trying to lock a signal into CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. When you are covering a breaking news story no matter how big or small the story – time is of the essence. The bitter cold and driving wind made everything more difficult and time consuming. Eventually I got a clean signal into Atlanta and began to stream live video of passengers being escorted into ambulances. It was chaotic and it seemed as if every New Yorker with a still camera or video camera was on the scene trying to capture their own bit of news.


Filed under: Brian Vitagliano