To the Editor:
Bill and Pat Searcy were my parents. They were amazing people and, as I have found out over the last days, touched the community of Carterville and surrounding areas in more ways than I could fathom.
The outpouring of support has helped our family deal with this shocking loss. The love, help and sympathies of the Carterville Rotary, Carterville Public Library, Holy Spirit Catholic Church of Carterville, First United Methodist Church of Carterville, Grace United Methodist Church of Carbondale and countless others has lifted our spirits. From the bottom of our hearts — thank you! It has been a true testament to how much my parents meant to Southern Illinois.
Carterville and the surrounding areas will need help replacing all that they did for the community and its people. Individuals have asked what they can do to help and I would ask that if you have spare time to give back to your community — do it. Join a group that works to better your town or simply check on your neighbor to make sure they are OK.
My parents helped make this world a better place. I would hope that others, including myself, can learn from their actions and pay it forward by any means necessary. I am thankful that my parents touched the lives of so many and their special legacy will live on and in others.
Unfortunately this tragedy also resulted in unforgivable actions by the local news that I feel the need to express. The rush to be the first to report a story, which may be viewed as success to a news outlet, was done without any consideration whatsoever given to the family and friends that would ultimately be impacted by the news.
For over 24 hours in early September, our family lived in limbo. We did not know the ultimate outcome of the accident and we all held out hope of the survival of my parents. While the amazing first responders in West Virginia would work countless hours searching unforgiving terrain to locate my parents, we remained positive. Once the plane was located, we still hoped that they would be found somewhere in the wilderness, perhaps finding shelter.
Unfortunately as less promising reports came in, the facts against their survival started to become a reality. Yet our family held on to a small glimmer of hope.
My 94-year-old grandmother learned about the death of her first-born son and beloved daughter-in-law from the television. My brother also learned of their demise from local television, as he waited for me to get information from the command posts of the first responders in West Virginia, who had yet to confirm their death to me.
My hope for all media outlets in the future is they will consider the emotions of the impacted families before rushing to be the first ones to break a story. Be more responsible, consider the feelings of those impacted, and take a step back and evaluate if the timing and reporting of the story is this really worth it. Thank you all for this consideration.
I would also like to thank Isaac Smith and The Southern Illinoisan for reporting the facts as they were known. This is a newspaper that I enjoyed working for in the mid-'90s in the sports department, and am proud to call a former employer. The Southern Illinoisan waited to run a story about their impact to the community until their obituaries were filed. Before this they didn’t mention their names in any story relating to the plane crash. They handled this delicate situation with dignity and class. They set a good example of how these types of stories should be reported, and I hope others will learn to be as respectful and responsible in similar situations.