Story display


ID:

203

Date:

2002-12-17

Headline:

At Least We Got to Kiss Him Goodbye

Reporter's name:

Kevin Sack

Delay/denial:

No

Lawsuit:

No

Fees:

No

Media outlet:

Los Angeles Times

City:

Coggin, IA

Summary:

An Iowa mother was on the scene with a video camera running when her son's Harrier "jump" jet crashed, killing him and creating a police report that the Los Angeles Times found in stacks of Department of Defense investigative files it obtained under FOIA. Reporter Kevin Sack learned about the mother's videotape from the police report, leading him to interview the pilot's parents and watch the video. The grieving family gave Sack a human touch in a series of stories on a spate of Harrier crashes, which won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

Notes:

NOTE: This story does not mention FOIA, but in June 2007, Kevin Sack and several other Los Angeles Times journalists leaving in a round of job reductions shared some of their favorite memories. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-buyout2jun02_yearbook,1,7725579.htmlstory?ctrack=1&cset=true This is Sack’s entry: On the moment the story about dangerous Harrier "jump" jets crystallized: "I was rifling through one of the scores of investigative files we had received through FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] -- describing the crash that killed Jeffrey Smith -- and came across a short police report with a brief notation that his mother had been on the scene and had been videotaping the crash. Wow! a mother witnesses her son's death through the lens of a camcorder. A few days later I was on my way to Iowa to spend time with the family and to watch the video in their basement. It gave me the lead to the story that most humanized the toll of the spate of Harrier crashes that we documented -- and helped the project win a Pulitzer."

Impact:

Series won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2003


Agencies:

DOD

States:

IA

Categories:

military


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