I drove to work on Tuesday morning, but I don’t recall many details of what transpired on the way there.
My eyes were watching the road and my ears were glued to the radio, listening to reporters describe the tragic event that took place near the Space Needle that left two men dead and one man seriously injured.
Longtime KOMO News photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner perished in the helicopter crash and Richard Newman, a motorist, was at Harborview Medical Center with second- and third-degree burns.
I got chills down my spine and I became teary eyed as I listened to the KOMO reporters describe the scene and how their hearts were hurting for their co-workers (who hadn’t been identified yet) and their families. One woman could barely get through her report without crying, but she finished and signed off. I admired her courage and professionalism to do her job so well at that moment.
As I continued my drive, I began to think about my workload for the day, but shook my head. How do you carry on with your day when something like that has happened?
As I turned right off State Route 522 up Juanita Drive Northeast in Kenmore toward our office in Kirkland, I drove by the heaps of flowers near the crosswalk at Northeast 160th Street where Sarah Paulson was hit by a car last Friday morning. She passed away from her injuries at Harborview later that day.
Again, I was struck in the gut at how life is fragile. I thought about my wife, my family and friends as I moved on up the road. We really don’t know what’s in store for us and need to embrace what we have each day.
Later in the day, I read a statement from KOMO news anchor and reporter Molly Shen about Strothman that moved me: “We all know him as one of the best storytellers to have ever graced the halls of KOMO. It felt like a loss for us because he knows his craft so well, and he’s such an artist and such a great journalist.”
Mark Pfitzner, Gary’s brother, also shared his thoughts with the media. His statement reads in part: “He took great care of his brothers and sister and always led by example. He LOVED to fly. Gary died doing what he loved.”
I never met these two men, but I admire them. Their passion for life and work is contagious and will inspire me from here on out.