We do lots of things at The Star that I love -- covering elections, sports, big weather stories, conducting investigations.
Covering tragedies is not on the list.
Covering tragedies involving people close to me or my friends or family is definitely not on the list.
Yet, it's part of the job, so we have worked hard over the weekend to cover the Chitty plane crash thoroughly yet sensitively.
I thought you'd be interested in a walkthrough of how it happened.
I was first called at home sometime in the mid-afternoon by our reporter on duty Sunday, Cherish Wilson.
She told me about the crash (normally, a small plane crash in Charlotte would merit only passing coverage in The Star), then dropped the bombshell -- she had received a tip that Jim Chitty and his wife were on board.
When my wife was an attorney doing title work, she crossed paths with Jim, so she knew where he fit into to the family trees of Shelby. That gave me some folks whom I could call that I knew very well -- this was important to me because I don't like to "spring" the news on unsuspecting family members unless they know who I am.
Anyway, while the folks I called couldn't give me immediate confirmation, after some calling around they basically said: "We're hearing what you're hearing."
Initially, the only discussion was of two people on the flight.
Soon, we received confirmation that the plane was indeed registered to Chitty.
It wasn't until late in the afternoon that we started hearing that there were possibly four passengers on board.
We contacted the funeral home which put us in touch with a relative in Wilmington who also confirmed that he was told by Charlotte police that four people perished.
Final confirmation of this fact didn't come from the NTSB until about 11 p.m.
In the meantime, we had lots of conversations with folks who had second- or third-hand knowledge of possible conversations between Chitty and the Charlotte control tower. As of yet, we have not been able to confirm those well enough to put them into print. Suffice to say, the consensus of these accounts is that there was some indication of trouble, but we'll have to wait for the preliminary report, which should come out next week.
We also chose our pictures for the paper judiciously. Some images published by other outlets showed personal effects and even clothes up in trees. We felt like those were not appropriate and added nothing to the story. I was also alarmed at some of the insensitive language used to describe the scene by at least one Charlotte TV outlet.
Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns about our coverage, please let me know through this blog or by e-mail to email@example.com
In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Chitty family. We have a place on the orange bar at shelbystar.com for you to leave a message to them.