Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Austin's Hour

Austin Saves the DayI don't feel good about everything I put on the air. It's hard to - when at any time I may be called upon to distill fresh misery. That said, this gig has its moments - and they're rarely where you might expect them. Take yesterday. By 2:oo PM, I'd yet to pull the trigger on my fancycam. Instead, I spent the morning furrowing my brow over Final Cut Pro - the stunning edit suite I've been studying thirty seconds at a time. It was a useful session, but it didn't change the fact that two minutes of the 6:00 newscast was sponsored by yours truly and 120 seconds of me chewing my lip over a candy-colored keyboard would not do. So I worked the phones, did the math and ended up driving an hour away from the station, deep into the kidney of a neighboring county.

That's where I found Austin Whitaker, a twelve (and a half) year old Burlington boy who was just happy to be done with his End of Grade testing for the day. Then again, it's been a tough week for this Alamance County seventh grader. See, late Saturday night Austin was lying in bed reading a book when he heard a strange crackling noise coming from down the hall. Imagine his surprise when he looked down the hall to see flames licking the interior of his family's mobile home. From here, this story could take a typically tragic turn - for trailer fires aren't known for their happy endings. But Austin wasn't going to go down that way, so he lept into action: waking his parents, grabbing his five year old little brother and generally saving the day. Not bad for a kid whose main motivation is achieving the next level in a bevy of video games...

Yes, thanks to Austin, his family escaped their burning home. Three dogs and a cat did not. Their modest trailer is now a petrified mess and Austin's parents still aren't sure how they're going to go about rebuilding. All that aside, the entire family welcomed me into what was left of their yard and miraculously, we had a few laughs. I left forty minutes after I arrived,with just enough interviews and cutaways to tell the story of a 12 year old boy who knew when to man up and the grateful Mom who still can't help ribbing him a little. My silly little TV story won't bring back their belongings, but I do hope the exposure will bring some charitable viewers their way and if nothing else, Austin might be hailed as the hero he is by his classmates...

Not bad for a late-day shoot in the middle of the sticks...

2 comments:

triadwatch said...

liked the story but one aspect that raises a red flag and i have a 13 year old kid . How many 12year olds are reading a book a 1 in the morning on a saturday night? Especially when the mother say he loves video games.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story. Anyone who doesn't know that the best part of a fire story often happens hours after the orange glow is gone needs to broaden their horizons.

Once went back to a fire that destroyed five homes, and ended up meeting with the residents of the last home burned. Elderly couple, had moved in on Tuesday, left Wednesday for a family wedding, and come back Friday to nothing left, just ash and a couple of walls still up.

Their kids had come back with them, and were helping go through the mess. All mom could worry about was the family china, while dad wanted his coin collection.

The son (with some help) turned up a large wooden cabinet and found the dishes, the coins, and the photos, all in good shape. Seems this huge oak armoire had been left standing with the doors open. It had fallen, and had covered all three boxes, which just happened to be sitting together.

Now that was a good moment to get on tape. Made my day.