Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Person: CabbageWatch

It never fails.

I was in the WNEP newsroom early Tuesday morning, working on state budget stories.  I just finished the second and hit the "save" button.   In spite of the time consuming task of trying to make the complex understandable, I was done early.  Most of that was thanks to coming in to work a little early.

After finishing the second budget story, I made another check of my e-mail before packing up my stuff to head to that day's live shot location, the state office building on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.  Something caught my eye.  Interstate 81 South at Lenox was closed due to 42,000 pounds of cargo on the road.  The email did not list the cargo or the circumstances that put it there.

Producer Thomas started working the phones.   He wasn't able to get much information from the people who should know such things.  Behavior like that always baffles me.  If we know, the public knows.  If the public knows, they can choose other routes.  It lessens aggravation for drivers and it increases safety for first responders.

In spits of the roadblocks, we knew it was big.  Photographer Jason and I jumped in a satellite truck and headed north.

The crash was in the south bound lanes.  As we passed it going north, we couldn't tell what it was.  It look like softballs all over the highway.  We turned around and started coming south.  Jason negotiated a good parking spot.  Thank you, fire department.  As Jason took the video, I approached State Police for the information.  The investigation was in the early stages, but they told me what they knew.

It was an explosion of cabbage and tomatoes.  The stuff was everywhere.  The point the truck first impacted the guide rail to its final resting place was about a half mile, and the route was covered in produce.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Luckily, the driver wasn't seriously hurt.  He gets a speeding citation.

The smell of cabbage was thick in the air, but the morning was on the cool side and the stuff was fresh.  It wasn't a bad aroma.

We got off the highway, and parked the satellite truck in the back parking lot of Bingham's Restaurant parking lot.  We were close to the highway, but still safely out of everyone's way.  11 live shots all morning long kept our audience involved.  I also managed to feed most of the mosquitoes in that part of Susquehanna County.

Interstate 81 reopened around 8:15 AM, about seven hours after the crash.

Thanks to Bingham's for the parking space.  Your breakfast smelled incredible, especially the bacon.  We didn't have time to stay and have something.  It's now on my priority list.

Photographer Jason was succeeded by photographer Corey.  He and I put together a story for our noon broadcast, and the day was done.