Member of Eyewitness News Team killed in Midtown crash
(Midtown - WABC, October 8, 2007) (WABC) -- We are mourning the loss of a member of the Eyewitness News team. NewsCopter7 pilot Captain Paul Smith was killed when a cab smashed into people on a crowded sidewalk outside a popular restaurant in Midtown Sunday night. Authorities are hoping surveillance video will shed some light onto what happened.
To read Shannon Sohn's blog remembering Captain Paul Smith, Click Here.Earlier Monday, Eyewitness News sat and talked with Corey and Cale Smith inside Bellevue Hospital -- the sons of Captain Paul and Donna Smith. Their dad was brought to this hospital last night, while their mom is still suffering at the hospital from multiple injuries.
The young men, ages 26 and 24, said every time they think of their father, they realize they still had so much to learn from him.
Cory and Cale Smith have barely left their mother's hospital bed inside Bellevue Hospital. The family is now leaning on each other during their darkest moment.
At about 10:00 Sunday night, their parents and several other good friends had just celebrated a birthday inside Docks Oyster Bar on Third Avenue.
The group had moved outside, when Paul was trying to hale a cab. That's when the driver of another taxi lost control, hit a tree and pinned Captain Smith, killing him instantly.
Donna has a broken pelvis, shattered ribs and bruised liver.
Cale tells Eyewitness News his father was one of the single most greatest people he had the honor of sharing a moment with. Cale went onto say that everyone his dad met, he touched, and that he "lived in the moment." Whether that was swimming in their backyard pool, cliff diving for his 60th birthday in Costa Rica or skiing in Tahoe.
Cale and Cory said their father had a great sense of humor and not one selfish bone in his body. No one knew that more than John Dl Giorno, who rode shotgun with Paul in NewsCopter7. Especially during the September 11th terrorist attacks.
"When we shot pictures that were seen by the world, and I was terrified, Paul took over," Del Giorno said. "And Paul's training kicked in, and Paul kept us in the air. He kept us safe and more than anything he kept me calm."
Viewers rarely saw Captain Paul, but did get a glimpse of him the day he witnessed the crash of a Channel 4 helicopter. And NewsCopter7's Shannon Sohn considers herself another person lucky enough to have known Captain Paul.
"He saw me get married, he saw me have two kids," she said. "He was in the helicopter with me when Chopper 4 crashed. We won an Emmy together. When my dad died, he was by my side. Whether it had been happy or sad, we'd been together."
Donna and Paul had been married for nearly 30 years. Paul did two tours in Vietnam.
He spent decades flying and spent more than 10 years at the controls of NewsCopter 7.
Paul's son Cory is an NYPD officer and says one of his father's proudest moments took place last weekend, watching him receive honors at the department's medal ceremony.
Funeral arrangements are still pending.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Mohammed Chowdhury insisted last night's crash was an accident that could not have been avoided. He says another car cut him off. He denied he was speeding and he apologized to the Smith family.
"I didn't do anything intentionally, it was just an accident," Chowdhury said.
He added, "I didn't realize someone was going to make a wide turn in front of my car."
He's convinvced surveillance video from at least three differnet cameras will support his version of the story.
"It was an accident, and I really really apologize for that," he said.
As for the investigation into the crash, sources tell Eyewitness News the 23-year-old driver's taxicab has been confiscated.
Chowdhury also had his cell phone taken from him so authorities can determine if he was on the phone at the time of the accident.
The taxi driver does have a valid license, but witnesses say he was speeding. He has been a taxi driver for just six weeks.
- 90-minute delays after LIRR service suspension 17 min ago
- Ex-Christie aides want traffic jam subpoenas withdrawn 5 min ago
- School bus collides with taxi in Brooklyn; 9 hurt
- Photos: Brooklyn school bus accident
- Man with stolen passport on jet was asylum seeker
- Photos: Malaysia Airlines missing plane
- Queens attempted luring suspect taken into custody
- Call released after Oregon couple calls 911 on pet cat
- Photos: 'The Bachelor' Season 18 finale in pictures
- Photos: Countdown: The 25 highest-paid musicians 20 min ago
- Ex-Christie aides want traffic jam...
5 min ago