August 15, 2002

By David Handschuh
2001 Poynter Ethics Fellow
Photographer, New York Daily News

Though thousands were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, I think it’s important to recognize that three photographers and five television technicians perished that day.

Killed as they were working engineering positions at the World Trade Center antenna sites were television engineers Gerrard Coppola of Channel 13, Isaiah Rivera of Channel 2, William Steckman of WNBC, Steve Jacobson of WPIX, and Donald DiFranco of WABC.

Tom Pecorilli, 31, was a cameraman for Fox Sports, returning to his Los Angeles home on Flight 11 from Boston, where he had attended a wedding. Tom leaves behind his wife Kia, who was three months pregnant when he was killed.

Bill Biggert, 54, was a New York-based free-lance photographer who was killed when the North tower collapsed. He leaves behind his wife, Wendy Doremus, and several children.

My friend Glen Pettit was a 30-year-old New York City police officer. Before carrying a badge and gun and television camera on his shoulder for the NYPD’s Video Unit, he wore a press card and covered news for Fox Television in New York City and News 12 on Long Island, NY.

Glen was a volunteer firefighter with the West Sayville Fire Dept in Long Island. He was proud of always being in the action, as a police officer, volunteer firefighter, and as a photographer.

Glen and I saw each other the morning of Sept. 11 at the base of the South tower. We chatted, in the middle of the chaos, as only seasoned journalists could.

Glen was excited about the video, proud of the history he had recorded that morning. He had made “the money shot,” as he liked to call it. He had captured the single image or minutes of tape that carried the essence of the story.

I almost tagged along with Glen that morning, knowing that his badge would be sure access to anywhere I wanted to go. But for some reason we opted to hug, warn each other to be careful and go our separate ways.

Glen was last seen on a short video clip from a television tape as he joined a team of firefighters entering the South tower. Less than five minutes later, the tower collapsed.

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Bill Mitchell is a Poynter Affiliate who most recently led Poynter’s entrepreneurial and international programs and served as a member of its faculty. Previously, Bill…
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