On the Other Side of the Story

By: Abby Kidder
By: Abby Kidder

Abby Kidder talks about how an interstate accident hit a little too close to home.

Last Tuesday was definitely my hardest day at work here at WTAP.

For those of you who may not know, we have police scanners in our newsroom that constantly keep us updated on what officers are responding to from fires, to accidents and even simple medical calls.

After Daybreak on Tuesday, I was sitting at my desk, waiting for the story meeting to begin when my fiancé called me before he went into his own meeting. A few minutes into the phone call I heard a voice on the scanners say "First responders, we have an accident, I-77 southbound lane".

Although this seems insensitive at times, we have a job to do as your local news station and have to numb ourselves from the sad stories that we report on a daily basis. Some days are harder than others and that's where we depend on each other to get through reading them.

Whenever there is an accident, especially on a main artery like the Interstate, we in the newsroom have to spring into action. We immediately call the department that is responding to it, write up a "crawl" which are the words you see scroll across the top of your television screen, send out e-mails, text messages and put it on the webchannel. (Yes, all of us in the newsroom do ALL of that!)

So when I heard the scanner say there was an accident on the Interstate Tuesday, I went to hang up the phone with Jason when he immediately told me to hold on. This actually surprised me because he's typically very quick to let me go if something important is going on, so when he told me to wait, it took me off guard.

Within seconds, Jason informed me that the accident involved one of his family members. I sat there frozen for what seemed like hours but it was really just a matter of seconds, because I heard how horrible this accident was as it unfolded on the scanners.

My boss let me go to the hospital, and when I got there, I realized that the outcome could've been a lot worse but it still was not good. I will never take a hospital's definition of "stable condition" in the same light again because the family member involved in the accident has a long and difficult journey ahead of him.

I am sharing this story with you all so you know that when you see us reading a sad/hard-hitting story with a stone cold face, we really aren't robots. We are just doing our job. (To make matters worse, Kim was not working the Daybreak shift the day following the accident, so I had to read the man's name several times pretending like he didn't mean the world to me when he's actually become a huge part of my life.)

I hope you never have to feel the terror and emotions I did last week. And I also hope you never take anything for granted. Reporting on a sad story when I don't know the victims personally is hard enough, being on the other side of the story is just plain heart wrenching.


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