This past Saturday I responded to a plane crash. As a reporter, I raced out to the scene and took a few pictures. Then I hunted around to find eyewitnesses and interviewed them. I found three eyewitnesses. The first was a little girl who looked a little haunted by what she'd seen, but told me anyway and gave me permission to quote her. The second was a man who only spoke Spanish and didn't want to be in the paper, but through a translator I got a slightly better sense of how many people were in the parking lot and how the crash played out. The third was an adult woman who was the one who called in emergency services. She was quoted in the final article as well.
Now, as a matter of routine, I generally do a quick Google check on my sources. Just to see if they are who they say they are or if there is something unusual that might compromise them being used in a story. After running a check on the little girl I almost didn't use her as a source. That's because about three and a half years ago, my eyewitness to a plane crash, a girl who was only a few feet away when the plane hit the ground, was nearly hit by a car in another scary incident.
I sat there with my notes and my jaw on my desk, staring at the Google results. It was the same girl, I watched the interview. Same child. Holy carp on a stick with tartar sauce. This child has one of the best Guardian Angels around, I think. I pray now that I never interview her or her family again for anything except her earning some honor at school.
I did use her quotes in the final article because she summed up the situation nicely and made a couple of astute observations that others didn't (she noted that the plane hit the ground in the lot and was trying to stop, and that slowed it down before it hit the tree). Plus, I wanted at least two eyewitnesses, and I didn't have the name of the guy who spoke to me.
I was pretty shaken all day. And as Monday was a very very difficult day, it was sort of a blessing in disguise. I was off my center, but I had a darn good reason for it!