Covering the collapse of the huge wind turbine in the high, golden hills above the small town of Wasco, Oregon brought a mix of emotions Monday.
Photographer Chris Rhodes and I ran into profund saddness as we interviewed the friends and former co workers of Chadd Mitchell who died Saturday afternoon.
He was inside the top of the wind turbine when it collapsed.
Mitchell used to work at the hospital in Goldendale, Washington where he was clearly a leader.
He helped his co-workers organize a union and was running for election to the hospital's board.
These are people who are used to seeing pain and suffering. They are strong and not easily shaken.
But they openly wept as they gathered to tell us about the bright light that had just gone out in their small town.
I also felt the rage of Chadd's younger brother as we talked on the phone about the loss of someone he loved so much. "He was everything to everybody" he said.
Later---I felt amazement among the massive towers of the wind farm. I'd never been to the Klondike property north and east of Biggs Junction. Its hard to get a sense of how big each turbine is---but they are massive---20 stories tall---with blades designed to spin in winds up to 55 miles an hour. It truely is amazing to see them stretched out over the rolling hills.
I felt confusion too---what would make one---and only one---collapse in a 25 mile an hour wind?
And saddness again---at the life that was lost when the huge machine snapped in half. I suspect the impact is only just beginning to be felt among those who loved Chadd Mitchell so much.
His friend Bob Yoesle tells me there is a memorial fund set up for Chadd's family---the details are below.
Chadd Mitchell Memorial Fund c/o Riverview Bank, PO Box 103, Goldendale WA 98620
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