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KOMO News Director and GM Issue Statement on Helicopter Crash

140318_helicopter_memorial_660Holly Gauntt, news director for Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO, and station GM Janene Drafs jointly issued a statement about Tuesday’s helicopter crash.

The two remembered Bill Strothman and Gary Pfitzner, the men who were killed in the crash. “Our hearts are heavy today. We miss them. We cry for our loss and their families.  We thank everyone who has reached out to us and offered to help in any way they can.” The statement added, “The flowers, the cards, the emails… they help more than you’ll ever know. How lucky we are to be surrounded and supported by such compassionate viewers and listeners. You’ve helped us in hard times before. Thank you for doing it again.”

You can read the entire text of the statement after the jump.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to co-workers and friends. It’s even more difficult when they feel so much like family. That’s what we’re like here at KOMO, a family, sadly one that has been through some very difficult times.

Bill Strothman and Gary Pfitzner were good men, very good men. Bill worked full time at KOMO for more than two decades before deciding to start his own production company and work for Helicopters Inc. covering the morning shift for KOMO and KING.

Bill was an exceptional photographer who cared deeply about his craft. He wasn’t just good at it. He was passionate about it. So much so that he mentored his son Dan who became a KOMO photographer a few years ago. We all watched the father and son team work together, tease each other, challenge each other.  Many of us have known Bill’s family for many years. Our hearts go out to Dan, Bill’s daughter Heidi and his incredibly strong wife, Nora.

Gary had been a part of our newsroom for the past several years. Even though he worked for the helicopter company, he worked WITH us. He was a man who loved to fly so much, he flew covering news in the mornings and then worked at Boeing all day. Like Bill he was a father, a father of two proud sons. A brother with six siblings and a devoted husband who adored his wife.

Our hearts are heavy today. We miss them. We cry for our loss and their families.  We thank everyone who has reached out to us and offered to help in any way they can. Our owners at Sinclair headquarters in Maryland. Our friends at ABC News, our competitors at KIRO and KING. The Seattle Mayor, Police Chief and Fire Chief who all came to the newsroom today to offer us help and hugs.

To the Governor who called as soon as he heard the news. To local businesses who sent food and flowers to our newsroom. And mostly to the hundreds of you in the community who have done the same. The flowers, the cards, the emails… they help more than you’ll ever know. How lucky we are to be surrounded and supported by such compassionate viewers and listeners. You’ve helped us in hard times before. Thank you for doing it again.

Holly Gauntt and Janene Drafs
KOMO News Director & General Manager

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