Thursday, December 15, 2016

Downingtown, it's been a tough day

There are days after I leave the newsroom that I hope no one asks me how my day was. How do you answer that when you reported on someone dying or their near-death experience? Before I joined the fire service, I had that thought about first-responders. What do they say when they come home to their families?

By 8 a.m. on a rainy December day in 2015 about a week before Christmas, I had received several tips about two separate incidents in Downingtown. A report of a serious two-vehicle crash early morning and a dead body found overnight. Among the people I called for information, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell said the lieutenant “called to inform me of the second tragic incident in Downingtown in a 12-hour span.”

A male was discovered deceased at approximately 11:10 p.m. at an abandoned property that I drive past often in Downingtown. The property, poised for development, has been a common topic in my reporting during the past few years. The investigators believed the death was accidental and caused by a fall.

“The deceased was a Downingtown resident who lost his life too early,” Maxwell said.

Two people were injured in the head-on crash the following morning. One of the drivers, on their way to work, was in critical care. When asked later, the lieutenant told me that driver had a long recovery. 

Two people were injured in a head-on crash on Route 113 in the Downingtown area in December 2015. Photo by 6 ABC 

Maxwell posted on his Facebook and asked for prayers for the families and the first-responders.

“It has been a sad day in Downingtown, as emergency service crews have had to notify multiple families of tragic news,” Maxwell wrote. “Personally, I am praying for the individuals in the car accident this morning and the trauma crews tasked with trying to save their lives. I pray for the family of the young man found deceased last night who are dealing with the tragedy of losing a loved one.”

I reached out to other journalists to tell them the story and to share the mayor’s post with them. Between my job and joining the fire service, I had a greater appreciation for what first-responders do and go through that we don’t think much about as we go on with our everyday lives.

When I arrived at the firehouse that night, I began a conversation with a few firefighters about the two stories I reported. Some of them talked about the emergencies they responded to, and sharing those experiences was our way of thinking of the families and those involved in the incidents.

The mayor had summed up what I thought about with first-responders, but couldn’t find the words.

“I am praying for our emergency responders who on only a few hours of sleep, or none at all, responded to two tragic scenes and are just now going home to their own families,” the mayor wrote. “Downingtown, it's been a tough day.”

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