Monday, December 23, 2013

Ice Storm Makes for a Busy Night

The ice storm moved in on a Saturday night. So for the most part I was spared. When I got back to work on Sunday night we still had 250,000 without power in Toronto and calls streamed in all night long for fires and wires down. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day 2013

It was a pleasure to cover a couple of events leading into Remembrance Day 2013. I visited the Brampton Sea Cadets standing guard overnight at the War Memorial. It's nice to see these young men and women taking part in something so positive. 

Then I stopped by Sunnybrook Hospital Veteren's Wing to see thousands of Canadian flags set up on the lawn. I think this would mean a lot to those being cared for at the facility. It was only one of many events to take place there. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Toronto Police Recover Rob Ford Video

I'm mentioned in the surveillance logs made by Toronto Police during the Mayor Rob Ford investigation. 

Jeremy from Global News and I sat close to the Mayor's house waiting for his SUV to return. When the SUV arrived and saw us the driver left and I followed in a low speed pursuit through neighbouring streets. 

I didn't know who was driving until today but at one point the SUV did a u-turn and came right toward my van with high beams on. It stopped inches away from my front bumper. For what seemed like forever I just say there and stared into the light, at one point lowering my visor and turning on my high beams too. 

It seems Lisi was driving that night and called Toronto Police. My vehicle is mentioned on page 289 of the documents. 

This was the same night Ford made news with his intoxicated visit to Taste of the Danforth. 

I talked to Mayor Ford that night when he went to the corner store for munchies. He said, "I'm a big guy. I'm always big news."

Toronto Police confirmed today they have the Rob Ford video alleged to show him a smoking crack. It was recovered from an electronic device hard drive. It had been deleted but was recovered by Toronto Police Forensic Investigators. 

As a side note they also have images recorded from a surveillance airplane. They show Ford meeting accused drug dealer Lisi and the Mayor urinating on a tree. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mississauga Rd Fire

I was on my way to work when I found myself around the corner from this fire. It was a very large house under construction in "Mississauga's First Geo Thermal Community", which struck me as ironic. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

4 Alarm Fire Destroys Etobicoke Warehouse

This was one of those fires that started small, then just when you thought they had it, it turned into a barn burner. 

A produce warehouse totally destroyed. A long standing Toronto business brought to its knees. It started in a truck parked under the shipping dock canopy. Then it spread into the roof and quickly got out of hand. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cootes Paradise

I've taken a real liking to Cootes Paradise, part of the Royal Botanical Gardens here in Hamilton. I can't say enough about this place. 

I go walking there a couple of mornings every week, as a substitute for the treadmill at the YMCA. I'm trying to become a little lighter and healthier, and the beauty of Captain Cootes Trail is making it easy to enjoy nature while getting sone excersize.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Quiet Sunday

Not even an hour into my shift and right around the corner from where I was sitting, a young boy was shot and killed on Weston Rd. 

Then it was off to Markham for a huge house fire. A man was trapped in the basement for over 30 minutes while the rest of the house was a raging inferno. Unbelievably he was on the phone with his family outside at the time. Fire crews, working through a language barrier (Chinese), eventually were able to rescue the man out of the basement. 

Many people in Markham speak very little English. It is the home to many Chinese immigrants. I'm sure this guy will be wanting to learn the basics. At least how to say "I'm trapped inside this burning building."  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nature Walk in Cootes Paradise Sept 1st 2013

Went for a great nature walk today with Filipe Lameira at Cootes Paradise. I brought the coffees and we met at 7am. Just a great morning away from all the crime and stuff I am usually taking photos of. 

Thanks Filipe Lameira for introducing me to Geocaching. It's like treasure hunt with your phone and the GPS. You use an app to put you close to a hidden treasure then narrow in on it with good old fashion searching. 

We found a large ammo box with tons of trinkets in it. It had been found many times before. Each person notes the date they found it and if they left or took anything in a small notebook inside. 

Phil tells me they can sometimes be as small as a film canister and really hard to find. 

I find this fascinating and could really get hooked on the chase/hunt aspect of it. 

It's just the same reason I love my job and searching for news or photos out on a nature trail. 

Our box had all sorts of things inside it. We took nothing but left something for the next person to find. 
Geocaching. Find an app for your phone and give it a try. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

First Time For Everything

I've been in the news business a long time. In almost 30 years of covering breaking news, I have never been completely denied access to a crash scene. I've spent countless hours waiting for access but today was the first time I was prevented from gathering video of a crash scene, even after the gathering of evidence at the scene was complete.

I've been to hundreds of fatal crash scenes. I've seen a grown man break down and sob like a baby upon learning his mother was dead. She had been trapped in the car for a long time. Firefighters tried so hard to free her while EMS worked to keep her alive. She was the victim of a drunk driver. That drunk driver was her son. She was a passenger in his car when he crashed.

More recently I gathered video on one side of a street as a witness told police two cars had been racing before the crash. Then I crossed the road to hear a young man swear to an officer he had no idea how the car he was driving crashed and ended up almost inside a nearby variety store.

I've spent countless hours waiting patiently in my vehicle as officers performed every detail of recreating a crash scene, piecing together every tiny aspect, photographing ever piece of scattered wreckage. I have waited for 5 or 6 hours and this is exactly how it should be. Police have an important job to do. People's lives and justice hangs in the balance. At the end of the day the job they do is much more important than the job I do.

Typically at some point after all the measurements have been taken, after all the positions have been mapped out and all the evidence tagged, the field work is done. It is usually at this point and this point only, that the media is granted access to gather video and photos before the vehicles are loaded on tow trucks and removed from the scene. This is not a right guaranteed under law. It's a sort of give and take, a partnership if you will, police working with the media to keep the public informed. 

We help them spread various safety messages like Don't Drink and Drive, Don't Text and Drive, Speed Kills,  Buckle Up and Live, to name a few. I've had officers reach into a vehicle and lift out an open bottle of liquor, placing it on top of the wreckage, a clear and vivid image that sticks with many in the community. The driver still has their day in court but sometimes it is so obvious that Media Relations Officers give interviews immediately following the crash to say they suspect drinking or excessive speed played a factor in the carnage. It's a message we all need to hear.

Of course behind every fatal collision lies a slew of devastated family members, those left behind with more questions than answers. Did someone cross the center line? Was alcohol a factor? Does the damage indicate extreme speed may have played a role? Was everyone buckled up? The pain they go through is something most of us cannot imagine. Sometimes the answers are not clear. The closure never comes. I am so sorry for your loss.

Friday's double fatal crash just outside of Hamilton was a first for me. I waited by a road block as darkness turned to daylight and officers continued to gather the necessary evidence at the crash scene. I wasn't alone. Four other media outlets also waited patiently for access. We were all very shocked when tow trucks arrived and the vehicles were loaded up, the road was swept and cleared of debris by the tow truck drivers and still no access was given the media. 

I was even more shocked when Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire arrived. He agreed to an interview and used that media appearance to appeal for witnesses. Please call if you saw anything at all that might help them. My first thought was this. Perhaps if media was allowed access for photos or video and then shared those with hundreds of thousands of viewers, it may jog someone's memory. They may come forward and say "I saw that vehicle down the road just before the crash and it was doing this or that." 

In closing I need to stress I have no information regarding the cause of this morning's fatal accident. Police have said they will be checking all possible causes. It is far too early to pin these things down. Officers will be working for weeks looking at all the evidence. I will be back on shift tonight at eleven. Please drive safely. Let's not meet by accident.

Note: This is not about photos or video of victims. We do not show those things on TV. All video I gather is vetted and approved before use. We typically do not show graphic images of victims.

UPDATED: A 17-year-old from Hamilton had been drinking with friends before he got behind the wheel and ended up in car accident that killed him and a 42-year-old father of three, the teen's friends say.

Friday, June 14, 2013

We're on Holiday!

We are on Vacation! We started out in Las Vegas and after two days we headed to the Grand Canyon. We spent the night in Flagstaff Arizona before heading back Ito Las Vegas. 

The next day we drove west to California. We spent a night in Long Beach, then headed up to Hollywood Blvd and the tourist attractions in the area. 

Today we visited Santa Monica and its famous pier. Long Beach waterfront was great but Santa Monica is stunning. The beaches go on forever and the views are unbelievable. 

So far so good. So many beautiful people down here and the food is great too. The only tough thing so far has been traffic. The GPS will say 20 minutes then recalculate 20 times as you sit in bumper to bumper traffic. A 20 minute trip turns into an hour almost every time. Not unlike Toronto on a Friday afternoon.