The e-mail box had several messages when I checked this morning, as people who knew I lived in Clarence for many years heard about last night's plane crash. You can go to the Buffalo News site for updates. So here's my relatively inconsequential part of the story:
I was working in the newsroom Thursday night when word circulated that a plane had gone down in Clarence. Now, Clarence is a pretty big place geographically, but I figured a small four-seater had landed in a corn field or something. Then in the 11 o'clock hour, word came in that the plane had crashed on Long Ave. in Clarence Center. That got my attention, since my best man at my wedding grew up on Long Street and his mom still lived there ... and there was no Long Ave. in the area, just Long Street. I told the news department to make the correction on our Web site. At some point I heard it was a commercial airplane with passengers.
At about 11:30, I called Ma Chase and was happy to hear her answer the phone. She said she was lying in bed about to go to sleep when it sounded like a bomb had gone off down the street. She simply stayed in her house and watched coverage of events on television until the power had been cut off shortly before I called. I asked if she was going to call Kevin in Connecticut, and she didn't want to wake him up. I kind of wondered how close a plane has to crash before it's worth a phone call to your son. But I did send some e-mails around to friends and relatives with connections to Clarence with a few details.
Kevin checked back this morning to say that his mom had gone across the street to stay with friends there overnight, and was back home this morning. The wind has been blowing in the other direction, so smoke was not a problem. Kevin did add that he thought a plane crash a block away was indeed close enough to warrant a wake-up call.
My mother and sister, who both live out of state, both heard about it through the cable news channels overnight and were relieved to hear that Ma Chase was OK. (By the way, Fox News reported it as Long Ave. in Derie County -- Derie, not Erie? Nice work, guys.)
One other connection came when the Associated Press quoted a state trooper about the incident, and the officer was John Manthey, who was a year behind me in high school. Small world. And I heard from another high school friend who flew out of Newark last night, and he said planes were delayed by high winds there. Jeff reported that when he took a plane out of New Jersey a couple of weeks ago, he happened to sit next to someone who was a passenger on the US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River. Strange days indeed.
It's been odd to be so focused on one side of the story, thinking about the friends on the ground near the crash site. As someone who is very familiar with the area, that plane must have come down at a very, very steep angle in order to not hit any other houses on the residential street. Now we're all kind of waiting to see if we know anyone who was on the plane, which is the other side of the story. Our thoughts are with those that do have such personal ties.