Provenzo: At first a parent, but soon, a reporter
On a typical school day, the parade of buses and cars dropping off students at Franklin Regional Senior High School is a slow but orderly procession.
Wednesday, however, was not typical.
I usually drop my son, Mark, off for school just after 7 a.m. Luckily, we were about 10 minutes late. He never made it inside the building.
Instead, as Mark grabbed his backpack and his bag of clothes for track practice, students began exiting the building.
From the parking lot in front of the main entrance, I could see kids pouring from the main doors and a nearby side exit. A fire alarm blared outside the building.
“Man, we just had a fire drill the other day,” Mark said as he headed toward the designated evacuation area.
As I watched my 15-year-old son walk toward the football stadium, I noticed a female student lying on a curb near the parking lot. She was being attended by at least two faculty members and other students.
“This is not a fire drill,” ran through my mind.
Mark had disappeared in the sea of students. The last thing he said to me was, “We have to go to the field, it's the evacuation area.”
It was then that things began to move very, very quickly.
A female student ran past my vehicle, crying but apparently not injured.
Before I could get out of my vehicle, the police cars began arriving. One, two ... five.
I asked a student what was happening.
“It's a stabbing. People are stabbed.”
It took me a moment to remember that my son was safe.
It was then I noticed the stream of ambulances arriving. I've covered numerous accidents, crimes and fires in my two decades working for the Valley News Dispatch. This was the most ambulances I've ever seen at an emergency scene, at least 10 in my immediate area.
The helicopters began to arrive. One, then two, then two more.
Franklin Regional's campus was swarming with emergency responders.
But the scene outside the school was anything but chaotic.
This emergency response appeared to be rapid, massive and orderly. It wasn't another 10 minutes before I saw victims being taken to waiting helicopters and ambulances. At least six, two girls and four boys, were taken out in those early minutes, including that girl on the curb.
A mother came running up the long driveway to the school, by this time closed to all but emergency vehicles.
“Where's my son?” she yelled at a Monroeville police officer on the road. He waved her to one of the ambulances lined up outside the school.
So, the city editor in me kicks in. I've called the office and reporters, and photographers are on the way.
I take out my cell phone and get a few close-up shots of the emergency response. I can barely do it as my phone blows up with calls and messages — my office, other news organizations, relatives, friends and, finally, my son calling from the middle school.
He's fine, please come and pick him up.
Another hour passes before the school releases my son. It's OK, they're making sure to account for each and every student.
I'm left to think about the families of the injured students. I can't begin to imagine how those families feel.
May their recoveries be full and fast.
Matt Provenzo is an editor for Trib Total Media at the Valley News Dispatch.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- Keystone Bakery closes Greensburg store
- Excela, Pitt-Greensburg team on legacy videos for those in twilight of lives
- Harrold Middle School students hit new high with food drive
- Mt. Pleasant plan has no call for tax increase
- Mt. Pleasant Guard unit may be deployed again
- Witnesses recount Franklin Regional stabbing
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, Youngwood discuss sewage system sale
- Dining at Applebee’s helps Jacobs Creek Area Faith in Action
- H&M to open in Westmoreland Mall
- Greensburg still fighting waterlogged Lynch Field, may add drainage