I love having the opportunity to try something new, like electrofishing. I had the best morning wading through the river, trying not to drown or get electrocuted or drop my cameras in the water. I only got stuck in muck once. It was awesome.
I have covered a lot of stories about families with unique challenges, but this family is definitely facing one of the most heartbreaking situations that I have encountered. Zac, their youngest son, has GM1 gangliosidosis and though his original prognosis was that he might live to 5 years old, it is now most likely 3 years old. He turned 2 today and is spending his birthday in a hospital getting a G-tube put in because he can no longer eat solid food.
It was with a heavy heart that I spent time with this family learning about Zac’s diagnosis, the fundraisers in his honor and their plans for what will probably be the last year of his life. They were very open and warm, in only a few hours with them I could see it in how they played with Zac, laughed with him over books and Mickey mouse and just held him as much as they could. Though I am glad I was able to share their story with our readers, it is stories like these that are the hardest to be a part of and that stay with you long after the paper has printed.
One of those days when you arrive at a festival and no one is there yet. Over the course of a couple hours, there were only a few guests that showed up at the pirate festival. I ended up doing some friendly stalking as two families circled the booths. Eventually this little guy, who was scared of the mermaids at first, climbed into the pool and started splashing with them. I was pretty happy with this adorable moment.
Yesterday we arrived at a local neighborhood where a fire call had been toned out and then canceled. We were told there was no fire, but an explosion. After going door to door and talking to neighbors in nearby neighborhoods, we were hearing many first hand accounts of the scene. We learned that a two story home exploded suddenly Wednesday morning. Most of the surrounding homes were severely damaged and homes within a few miles were shaken and windows shattered by the force of the blast. After seeing the scene, it seemed like nothing less than a miracle that the baby not only survived the blast, but was found by firefighters under four feet of debris within 15 minutes of their arrival and transported to the hospital. After being evaluated by the hospital we were told she had some bruises but that was about it. Amazing. It was bittersweet, knowing that the infant, Parker Singer, 4 1/2 months, survived while her mother did not. We knew that a family had lost their loved one and that the baby had lost her mother. It was a tough thing to cover and witness and I watched as our reporters did it with compassion and professionalism. They made me proud to have them there with me.
Today we don’t know much more, but the investigation is ongoing. Here are a few shots from yesterday.
Today I was driving to a house fire (wondering how anything could burn in a thunderstorm…) and these adventurous people were paddling down a drainage ditch along the highway. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and ventured out into the storm to get their photo. Truckers were honking and they were waving to drivers as they went by.
Later when we were all dry, I was able to talk with them a bit and they said that after they put the canoe away they did a little boogie boarding in the ditch as well. I’m sad I missed that, but I’m glad I happened upon them while they were out there.
Last week I covered a Shattered Dreams event at one of the local high schools. Shattered Dreams is a two day program designed to educate students about the danger of drinking and driving. A mock accident is set up that is modeled after a real accident situation that occurred in this area. The students are set into the staged accident scene and are treated, transported and dealt with by local firefighters, police and other emergency personnel.
As a journalist who actually covers awful car accidents regularly in this area, I was a little disturbed by the experience because it was so easy to imagine it being real. I could see myself covering this very accident, listening to these kids crying and watching the hurt ones flown off. It was not hard for me to imagine at all, especially after the fatal accidents I’ve covered here. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much it actually touched our local students. I could see some of them definitely didn’t seem to care, they were texting and playing games and talking.
Much like when we print accident photos and we hope that the image helps someone to buckle up, or pull over when they’re tired or put down their phone, I hope that this helps someone think twice too. It was definitely intense enough to make a lasting impression.