Friday, 21 February 2014

Death In A Valentines Rainstorm.

It's not much of a final epitaph to two men is it? Family men, mown down on their cycles and killed by the driver of a BMW in the throes of evading the local constabulary on a dark and stormy evening.

The lamp post... torn down and snapped with the force of impact.

A few days ago, as the latest in a long line of storms passed overhead, i had trouble standing up and more importantly, keeping my tv camera dry as the countdown to an afternoon live ticked away. My reporter and i stood close to where the two men had lost their lives, rehearsing the moves and script, when my eye caught sight of a small gaggle of rain lashed people walking towards us...

We went live. 1'30" of explainer, police appeal and grisly details.

As we finished, i noticed one of the group silently picking up pieces of the remaining cycle. A cycle seat, pieces of plastic and a small torn piece of clothing. The three remaining women of the group huddled near the impact spot, shaking. I couldn't tell if they were shaking from the cold wet rain or...

Eye contact was made between us and we drifted towards the group. A short question revealed a wife, a daughter, a friend and i think, a Brother. A small bunch of flowers were clasped in a hand. The shaking not only from the cold but from the shock of being told only a few hours before that her Husband was dead... On Valentines Day.

My camera stayed by my side. I did not have the guts nor the will to raise it.

In a turnaround of events, they were the ones asking the questions. Do we know any more information? Did we know what exactly happened? We talked and gave any information that we had. We asked if they would like to speak on camera about their tragic loss. They politely declined and we understood.

I didn't want to film a sobbing family at the scene of their loved ones demise. The shaking and the tears were all too plain to see on a cold, wet and windswept suburban street. I make no apologies for leaving them to their grief and keeping my camera at my side. We could tell the story without pictures of the very sad scene before us. Some may disagree, but i really don't care.

As i walked away, they disappeared in the greyness of the thunderstorm and the rain. I got into my news van and stared at the bag of chocolate, wine and valentines card in the footwell for my wife, safe in the knowledge that she was at home, cooking dinner for a husband who will soon be home.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.