Shuttle Tragedy Hits Close to Home for Local Man

Saturday's space shuttle tragedy brought back a lot of memories of the Challenger accident in 1986. Specifically for one man here in Central Alabama.

Clarence Gibbons was a network videographer back then. He was at Cape Canaveral when the Challenger exploded on lift-off. It's been a particularly difficult day as he once again watched some painful reminders fall from the sky.

"In my mind's eye, I could already see all these pictures without going back," Gibbons said. But he did go back--to photos of the Challenger accident and those all-to-familiar images.

"The pictures they started showing were identical to the fingers I saw coming out of the sky on the Challenger and I've got to tell you, it was rather sickening," recalled Gibbons.

A veteran newsman who has covered most of the major events over the last three decades, Gibbons says the space program has always been of special interest to him. "I very much wanted to go up," he said. "They had a list up at NASA. Everybody that wanted to go up signed the list and they started clearing you and all that stuff. The day of the Challenger I had them remove my name from the list."

And now, it's happened again. Gibbons says, "I think about all the families of those people and this nation as a whole--what a loss it is, unbelievable. It's just a terrible happening. I hate to see it all over again." And Gibbons says the hardest part of all this is that we may never no what really happened.