On my way to the office for the start of my night shift Monday I no sooner turned on my scanner than a call came in for an additional firetruck to go to the scene to help contain fuel being spilled and heading to the storm drains. At L-A Harley. I had nothing scheduled until later, so I headed that way. When I arrived, I will not lie. I was excited. A motorcycle was crushed under the wheels of a truck. What a great photo. Morbid perhaps. But for a photojournalist, a moving, well not really, but stunning imagery. I could tell at once nobody was seriously hurt. The demeanor of the police and firefighters is a dead, pardon the pun, giveaway. I shot, talked to firefighters and cops, bystanders, employees and the like. Shot some more and waited until there was a moment when the drivers were done talking with the police and firefighters. I approached them with my camera not pointing in their face, and managed to talk to both drivers and got information for a caption. The driver of the bike said the sun was in his eyes and he thought the truck was turning left, so he went to pass on the right. He made an assumption and paid the price. He is lucky to be alive.
While skulking around, waiting for one of them to put a hand on his head or face, or some other more dramatic moment, I got a call from a fellow Sun Journal employee. They were having mechanical difficulties with their vehicle and asked if I could come over and help. I hung out at the scene for a few more minutes. Documenting a scene like this is akin to covering a baseball game. You might get your best photo in the first inning, but stay the entire game hoping for a better one. I had some great shots already, but might have gotten a better one. I stayed a little longer, but didn’t get what I was looking for. I was focusing so long on trying to get one of the drivers, preferably Don Morris, the lucky one who was riding the bike, hoping he would express some emotion that would have put the photo over the top. But that didn’t happen. I did see the irony of the Ride Safe logo on the license plate and shot a closeup.
The first comment from a reader online said that photo told the story best. It is a wicked literal photo.
I helped my colleague with their car issue and headed to the office where I uploaded the photos to the website and headed to CMMC where I shot a video and photos of a class about eating better that will be our Eats for this Sunday’s B section. I learned about the benefits of a vegan diet and was entertained by a former Soviet bloc cook who has traveled the world and for a month, for free, show anyone interested, how to eat better and have it taste good.
About 10 minutes into it, I got a call from Judy Meyer, managing editor days, and a great boss, talented writer, editor and champion of freedom of the press, telling me there is a possible structure fire, but will call back if it turns out to be bad, so don’t go yet, but can you scoot if needed. Of course. Don’t worry about it came the call 5 minutes later. Five after that, it might be something, can you check it out when you get done.
I did and in the middle of shooting that, a call for smoke coming from Blake Street Towers. Race there and while getting out of my car there, a call for possible smoke coming from Bates Mill. I can see smoke for sure coming from Blake Street, so I start shooting. Some trucks diverted to the mill, but later the caller reporting the Bates Mill fire calls back and says it just the smoke from the towers. Unlike the TV guys who tend to stay in one place, I walk around the entire building and get a variety of different scenes playing out.
Head back to the office, process the lot, and get ready to punch out a few minutes early. Call it not getting a lunch break. An eventful, but short shift for a change. Just then a friend, knowing I am late guy, calls and says “nice night for a bike ride, ya think!”
Monday night’s I usually get home when everyone is calling it a night anyway, it could not be any better weather, I did not get to the gym today, ok. What a perfect night for a ride through LA. A minute before midnight I get home and my oldest son Ryan is just going to bed. I say goodnight and tell him I am taking Allie for a walk. His eyes open wide, sits up and says. “I’m coming, I want to spend some time with you dad.” We have gone on hundreds of walks with the dog, many late at night. But both of us know they will be coming to an end soon as he is heading off to boot camp at the end of the summer. I am so proud of him, happy for him, and am confident he will do great things. But damn if I won’t miss my son. A great way to end my day.
Of all the images I have from today, the one that will last the longest is the look in Ryan’s eyes when he shot up from his bed with a big smile on his face, wanting nothing more than to spend time with me.