By Ren LaForme
As I listened to the plane sputter overhead, its powerful engines burning fuel for the last few seconds of its existence, I had no idea it would almost end my career as a journalist.
On Feb. 12 at around 10:15 p.m., I was slowly checking the rooms at the group home where I was working in Clarence Center. I walked out into an enclosed porch where I heard a plane fly overhead in the cold night sky. I thought nothing of it.
Two hours later I got a phone call from the former editor in chief of The Spectrum.
“Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence,” she said. “ABC News called the office. They need help. Come as soon as possible.”
A few hours later, I found myself in a tattered conference room in an Econolodge on Transit road with four hardened journalists and a couple of Spectrum friends. I still don’t like to think about the things that I did there.
ABC News made us call family, friends and neighbors of the flight victims. They made us ask them probing questions about their lives and feelings. They sent some of us to the scene of the crash, which smelled of burning jet fuel and death.
That night, I sat down at home and seriously considered quitting journalism. I felt dirty.
However, I felt a duty – a duty to the lives lost on Flight 3407 – to learn their stories and tell them to the public. As a journalist, it would be a disgrace to let their losses go unnoticed.
I decided to soldier on.