Last night’s crash of Continental Flight 3407 was a tragedy, with 49 people on the plane killed along with one person on the ground when the plane suddenly took a nosedive into a neighborhood in Clarence Center, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. NTSB officials are now saying that there was “significant” ice buildup on plane just before it crashed. Among those killed was a widow of a 9/11 victim who had campaigned for victim’s rights and had met with President Obama just last week.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to witness something like that, whether you actually see the plane go down to just see the fiery, horrific aftermath. Being a relatively small city, it’s not surprising that the crash has sent shockwaves throughout Buffalo, including the Sabres organization. As the BUFFALO NEWS reports, many of the team’s players live in or near Clarence Center and became witnesses to the horror last night.
“I heard the plane coming,” defenseman Teppo Numminen said. “I was in my bed and I heard it and thought it sounded really weird, really close to us. Then I heard a little poof afterwards and I was thinking, “That doesn’t sound good, doesn’t sound right.’ So I looked out of my window and I saw the red sky and I knew something was wrong.”
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff lives a couple of miles from the crash site, and heard the first responders at the scene throughout the night. He also was shaken by the crash, and had tears in his eyes when he talked to the media this morning:
“It’s an incredibly sad day for our city and we’ve talked about it that this is going to reach and touch a lot of people,” said Ruff, who lives a couple of miles from the site in Clarence. “You’ve got to get through it. It’s an area where a lot of us live. Everybody is going to know somebody that’s touched by this. It’s a tough day for Buffalo. First and foremost, it’s all about the families of the people that were lost and all our feelings go out to them first. When it comes to something like this, it’s a tremendous tragedy.”
It’s easy to think that sports stars exist in a realm outside of the real world, and are untouched when something terrible happens in their community. But clearly, that’s not the case. Maybe it’s different because it’s Buffalo, or because we’re talking about hockey players and not football or basketball stars. But as lucky as they were that no players were killed, they still have to try and focus on beating the best team in hockey tonight - the San Jose Sharks - with the weight of the tragedy hanging on them.
As much I’d love to trade places with a professional athlete for one day, I don’t envy the Sabres. At all.