Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Buffalo plane crash

Posted by Craig Kanalley on 2/18/2009
Here's "my story" on the Buffalo plane crash that killed 50 people last week and made international headlines. Everyone in the Buffalo area has one, and I figured this would be worth documenting.

It was really ironic because the night this transportation nightmare occurred, I was en route to Western New York from Chicago via Amtrak.

Here's how I found out...I was on the phone with a friend around midnight, somewhere in Indiana or Ohio. I asked her to check the BBC.com headlines for a possible update on my new Web site www.breakingtweets.com. When she said, a plane crash in Buffalo was the main story, I couldn't believe it.

I thought she was joking and asked several times, are you sure? Buffalo is sometimes in the national headlines, but never international. A---what?? Plane crash? It was shocking to me, just as I'm sure it was to many other Western New York natives.

To hear about the 50 lost lives was heart-wrenching, and for it to happen in Clarence Center really blew me away. A home was destroyed, just a few miles from my home. My heart immediately went out to the family. Thinking about it more, I couldn't imagine a plane going into a house in Clarence..just couldn't! It's such a nice little neighborhood.

But what happened the next day was even harder to take. First, I found out that one of those dead, according to a preliminary list by the Buffalo News, was Alison des Forges. She's a Rwandan genocide researcher who lived in Amherst and worked for the University at Buffalo. I saw her speak once at St. John Fisher College, and we read a lot of her work for my class Rhetoric of Hate at Fisher. I really admired the work she did. To know somebody who died in the crash hurt a lot. But for something like this to happen to her, someone who devoted her life to raising awareness about the deaths of innocent people in Africa, it just blows my mind.

Then, I was driving on the Thruway (I90) that night when I passed the scene. I saw helicopters flying around and a bunch of lights in the area. It was really disturbing to see...a very emotional sight. Clarence should not get this type of attention, ever. It just didn't settle right in my stomach.

And finally, when I went over to my parents' house to visit - I learned that someone my mom works with lost her best friend in the crash. There were stories like this everywhere in the Buffalo area. If you didn't know someone in the crash, as I sadly did, you knew someone who knew someone in the crash. Really, just two degrees of separation. That's the type of tight-knit community Buffalo is.

Thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost their lives and their families.

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