KOMO chopper crash kills 2
The early morning rush hour crash of a KOMO-TV news helicopter killed the pilot, Gary Pfitzner, and veteran news photographer Bill Strothman. Given that the chopper went down along Broad Street just outside the valet parking entrance for the Space Needle, the crash could have been even more tragic, as Mayor Ed Murray noted. Think if it had occurred during summer tourist season or at a time when there was a major event going on near the Center. In the days ahead we'll also be thinking about::
- The loss of pilot Pfitzner, who received high praise for his professionalism and attention to safety; and photographer Strothman, known for his exceptional talent and friendliness. It was a somber morning for news crews on the scene. Mayor Ed Murray noted that members of the media are public servants, and that the risks they take in doing their jobs are often overlooked.
- The impact of seeing seeing such a traumatic event. Shortly after this morning’s crash, eyewitnesses turned to social media to provide updates and photos of the incident. Those near the Seattle Center quickly posted images of the burning wreckage, while other commuters shared photos of the thick, black billows of smoke rising up over the Seattle skyline. Chris McColgan, who lives just a few blocks away from the crash site, watched the chopper fall from the sky and burst into flames from his car on Broad Street. He described the scene to The Seattle Times as something straight out of a movie. (More eyewitness accounts, photos and videos are here on Crosscut. )
- The safety questions around where to safely locate helipads and helicopter operations and maintenance. The National Transportation Safety Board has made improvements to helicopter safety one of its top priorities. After the NTSB's investigation, Seattle will review whether helicopter takeoffs and landings should be allowed in busy areas like the Seattle Center neighborhood. — M.C., H.W., J.C.
Jim Compton dies at 72
Veteran reporter and former Seattle City Councilmember Jim Compton has died at age 72. Compton served on the council from 1999 to 2006, when he left to pursue teaching in Romania and Egypt. (Stories he did later for Crosscut on both Egypt and the Roma people can be found here.) His journalism career included serving as a foreign correspondent based in London for NBC. He worked at KING 5 as a reporter, commentator and producer from 1984 to 1997. Former King Broadcasting President and CEO Steve Clifford praised him both as a city councilmember and "a superb journalist, a true craftsman. He would work endlessly putting together the specials he did," Clifford said. Compton recently completed a book on the conflicts between Indians and settlers in Oregon. The book has not yet been published. — J.C.
$15 and daycare
The effects of a minimum wage increase are still being weighed in all sorts of places, including daycare centers. The Seattle Weekly's Nina Shapiro says working parents feel that childcare teachers deserve more pay, but worry about tuition increases as a result of any bump to a $15 per hour minimum. Many working parents pay as much for daycare as they do for their mortgages. Some centers could be forced to increase rates, though they say that teacher quality would increase along with them. And turnover among staff would be reduced. — H.W.
Pets and pot
Pot legalization has caused more recreational use than ever — among dogs. A recent KING5 report on the trend — which has been noted before — offered a new twist to the old problem of pets getting into the stash: Baked goods and other new options for selling and consuming marijuana are probably more attractive than a baggie of bud. (Dogs dig into those, too.) With the edible cannabis market booming, medical and recreational smokers will have to do a better job of hiding their pot from their pet. According to Dr. Ruby Donnaway, of Affordable Animal Emergency Clinic in Auburn, too much THC could trigger seizure, coma or even death. — H.W.
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