KOMO Staffers Kept It Together To Report on Helicopter Crash

The KOMO Seattle TV and radio reporters not only had to cover the tragedy of their crashed helicopter March 18 but the deaths of two colleagues. They had to process a horrific tragedy that many actually witnessed from their workspaces, reports the Seattle Times.

Corwin Haeck, a KOMO news radio reporter, said he heard the crash from the KOMO newsroom, grabbed his microphone and recorder, and rushed down to the street. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of my eyes. Our own news chopper in a ball of fire.”

Haeck said the news-gatherers put emotions aside to get the story covered.

Photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner were killed in the accident. Seattle resident Richard Newman was severely burned on the ground.

Anchor Dan Lewis was set to board a plane to Washington, where he was to interview the president. He rushed back to KOMO to report the tragedy.

“This is a television station that’s in a state of shock,” he told viewers.

The Sinclair station has arranged for grief counselors to meet with staffers.

“The pilot and the photographer who lost their lives were like family to us here at the station," said Janene Drafs, general manager of KOMO. "We are grieving for them, their families and the on-ground victims who were injured in this horrific event."

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.