I was 18 years old and had my dream job.
I was a TV photojournalist.
I had a $20,000 video camera, a Ford Escape, and a pager. Everyday, I'd get video of house fires, car accidents, politicians, crime scenes... or whatever else was going on that day.
I was a busy guy. Real busy.Most of the time, I was just a little too busy to feel like getting up for church on Sunday. But I couldn't feel too bad about that. I mean, church is great and all, but come on, I had my dream job!
And I was good at what I did. Real good. I was the #2 photog at the station. Other people would see my video and ask "How'd you do that?" I was training other photographers and reporters how to shoot great video.
Life was good.
In addition to shooting video for the 10pm News, it was also part of my job to set up live shots (you know, when a reporter is standing in front of a burning building and talking to the anchor).
Live shots were a little tricky. We had a live truck (we called it "Live5") with a fifty foot tower on the top. I had to drive the truck to where I was going to have the live shot, raise the mast, and then point the dish on top of the mast so the video signal could get from the truck to the TV station.
One night I was doing a live shot downtown. Downtown was a little more difficult, sense there were so many building in the way of the video signal.I had moved the truck four times, and still couldn't seem to get a clear signal from my truck to the station.
Fortunately, I finally realized that if I could get six inches ahead of where I was, this building wouldn't be in the way anymore, and I could get a clear signal tuned in.Unfortunately, it takes about ten minutes to lower the tower on the truck, drive the truck, then raise the tower again. That was time I just did not have (it was 9:47).
The mast on the truck was up.There weren't any power lines near the street.It was only six inches.
I decide to commit a huge No-No.
With the mast up and the producer on the phone screaming at me, I got in the truck, shifted into drive, and slowly inched forward.
I opened my door and looked behind the truck to see that the fifty foot tower on the truck had intersected with a street light.
My career in photojournalism was laying in the middle of the road in a pile of shattered glass and twisted metal.
Story continued in The Incident (Part B)