You never know when news will happen

Firefighters pull a man from a van that flipped on its side outside the Arundel Center in downtown Annapolis.

Rarely are any two days alike in the news business.

A case in point was one day last week.

I’m usually one of the first reporters in the newsroom for our morning print deadline, and as such, I end up writing some odd, off-my-beat stories. On this particular day, we needed to play catch-up to reports from other media outlets about the governor naming a gambling commission.

Once that was out of the way, I headed to downtown Annapolis to check out reports of a fish kill.

There were not too many dead fish, but there was a big mahogany tide blooming in Ego Alley. With that info, I headed back to the newsroom to make some phone calls about fish and water quality.

As I drove down West Street, a few words in the radio traffic report caught my attention. I think I heard, “Annapolis” and “flipped” and “near West Street.”

I rang up our police and fire reporter to see if he knew where the wreck was, but he was in transit between the police station and the newsroom and hadn’t heard. So I decided just to drive and find it. It couldn’t be far away, I figured.

I drove all the way around Westgate Circle and headed back toward downtown. It didn’t take long before I found a work van flipped on its side right outside the Arundel Center, which is the headquarters building for the county government. I parked my car in a nearby garage.

News on the go: Filing from the scene of a vehicle crash.

A pretty decent crowd had formed with workers from the Arundel Center and other nearby state office buildings. I found out later that workers inside the buildings heard the crash — it was that loud.

I sent some emails and text messages back to the newsroom to alert them of the situation and I started taking photos with my camera.

I actually saw the firefighters finish using the jaws of life to cut off the roof of the van so they could carefully pull out the driver. Usually I arrive at crash scenes way too late. I admit, it was pretty impressive.

While the accident wasn’t the biggest deal in the world, news-wise, I thought this would make a good update for our website. (The driver of the flipped van had minor injuries and was taken to the local hospital. The driver of the minivan that had hit him refused medical treatment. Traffic was slowed in the area, but it wasn’t a disaster.)

In order to be efficient, rather than drive back to the newsroom, I pulled out my laptop, balanced it on a brick wall, fired up the Verizon card and got to work editing and sending a photo. The photo was posted on our website along with a brief write-up by a reporter who was in the newsroom.

Of course, as my luck would have it, one of our freelance photographers was on the other side of the crash scene and got great photos. Those were the ones that ended up in the print edition.

I was bummed that my picture didn’t make it in print, but at least I’ll always have those digital pixels!

Screenshot of The Capital’s website showing my photo with a news update about a wreck in Annapolis.
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