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Thoughts On The Flight 3407 Plane Crash…

By Tom Waters
March 1 , 2009

Hopefully Buffalo media outlets won’t milk the crash for their own selfish purposes too much in the coming weeks. It would be nice to see ANY media outlet take the moral high ground by being tasteful and conservative on their take as opposed to disrupting the grieving process by hammering surviving relatives with questions for weeks on end and conducting around-the-clock coverage long after all relevant facts have been released and the news portion of the story is gone and the dead horse portion of the exposure truly begins.

I was very torn about whether or not to write about the horrific plane crash late Thursday night/early this morning, but I feel compelled to. While most people cope with any tragedy of this magnitude, they tend to relate to the event by making it about them. I’ve always shied away from writing about celebrity deaths or Buffalo tragedies because I would rather mourn in my own time than jump onto a bandwagon and vie for recognition in the classic journalistic tradition of grabbing headlines or boosting site hits by banking on the loss and grief of others.

While it’s appropriate and relevant to report an event regarding the who, what, where, why and how, oftentimes writers inject their own egos in situations like these where it’s not warranted (i.e. ‘I met Jimmy Griffin at a church function in ‘76’ or ‘September 11th was important to ME because I was doing THIS on that day and my cousin’s sisters’ husband was down the street’, etc.). While many of my essays are egocentric, I strongly frown on this sort of narcissism in professional writing. Lives have been lost and this has nothing to do with me or anyone else who tries to make it about them. If more people read between the lines in whatever newspaper they read or any cable news station that milked such an awful occurrence for everything it was worth, they’d realize just how exploitative and heartless the field can be.

In this instance, I’d like to say a few things. I was born, raised and lived in Clarence for 26 years before moving out of town to Amherst and then Lancaster. It will always be a part of me and living a half an hour away, that sounds foolish, but there is a definite cultural difference between Clarence and Lancaster. I wrote an article some time back in the Buffalo News My View column about my love for Lancaster and the fact that (like anyone aging and finding out that they ‘can’t go home again’), Clarence has become more populated and less rural over the course of the last twenty years. Over the summer, the Town of Lancaster was kind enough to include this article in a time capsule that was sealed in a building for the next 100 years. Clarence loyalists didn’t take to this article too kindly, but many alumni from high school agreed.

Since my parents’ home is on the border of Williamsville, we spent the majority of our year directly in the flight path leading to and from the Buffalo airport. Most people who live in Clarence can hear the planes that depart and arrive throughout the day and it became so commonplace that we learned to tune it out. It was part of growing up and living in Clarence. For all of us.

In December, I obtained a part time job in Clarence where I remain and work three days a week. It’s given me a great opportunity to reconnect with the town I grew up in and visit with old school chums or familiarize myself with the surrounding townships, bars and roads. The Goodrich Road/Clarence Center Rd. area (where the crash took place) is not only five minutes away from Clarence Central High School, it’s also ten to fifteen minutes away from my place of employment. The Clarence Middle School is also five minutes away from the crash site.

My heart goes out to the victims and families of flight 3407. Early reports are already confirming that most of the 49 people who died in the crash were Buffalonians. It was a horrible, horrible tragedy and most of us will be coping with the loss and grieving in our own ways throughout the weekend and well beyond.

With any unexpected death or national disaster, I try and look for the positive effects and ramifications that weigh out all the negative and saddening events. For those familiar with the Goodrich Rd./Clarence Center area, it’s a highly populated, well-developed suburban area on the border of Amherst and Clarence Center. Luckily, no one in the home that was ’flattened’ was hurt, and with two neighboring schools, a firehall and densely populated neighborhoods, it’s a godsend that more people weren’t hurt. It’s also very fortunate that the crash took place so close to the Clarence Center Fire Hall. Luckily, their response time was much faster than it would have been had the crash taken place further away from their station. What happened was awful. If the crash happened further out, though, the fire could have cost more lives and caused more property damage (during a Buffalo winter where we’ve already had plenty) than it did.

It’s always especially painful when any deaths occur so close to a major holiday. It seems as if the really decent people always die near national holidays. Again, my condolences to the friends and family of the victims in the plane crash. You will be in everyone’s thoughts and prayers in spite of living in a world of exploitative, ulterior and sensationalistic media overexposure where any tragedy is concerned.

Hopefully Buffalo media outlets won’t milk the crash for their own selfish purposes too much in the coming weeks. It would be nice to see ANY media outlet take the moral high ground by being tasteful and conservative on their take as opposed to disrupting the grieving process by hammering surviving relatives with questions for weeks on end and conducting around-the-clock coverage long after all relevant facts have been released and the news portion of the story is gone and the dead horse portion of the exposure truly begins. Please be tasteful and remember that it’s not always ’all about you’ or ’all about Buffalo’ when handling the story. For once. See also: Tim Russert, Jimmy Griffin, anything having to do with the Goo Goo dolls, etc. Real journalists will attempt to write about the story tastefully and objectively within a short time frame. Again, our thoughts and prayers will be with you.

 

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