Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

The Unexpected

Posted January 23, 2007

Just like athletes have to throw out the playbook every once in awhile, journalists have to cast aside preconceived notions and expect the unexpected.

This past Monday morning brought something, unfortunately, that I've learned to expect -- another tragic car wreck involving teenagers. This time, two teenagers died in a head-on collision in Johnston County. This comes just one week after a Wake County high school student met the same tragic fate.

At first, I looked at it as just another tragedy, a life cut short by what could be a list of things -- speed, driver inexperience, distraction? The Highway Patrol still doesn't know. But then came the unexpected -- Rickey Richardson, one of the victim's father's. (Watch the full interview.)

When we turned the camera on, Richardson started talking. He, needing no prompting, no questions, was talking about the love of his life -- his son, Reece. There were tears in his eyes, but his words were clear, his heart open, his message direct. He talked about how his son was a great soccer player and would bring the entire team home to watch the movie "Return of the Titans" before a big game. He talked about how Reece was an avid hunter who had recently taken his 14-year-old sister under his wing and shared his hobby with her. He talked about how he had taken his son to buy a nice suit for homecoming at his high school. After the accident, Richardson says he went out and bought the exact same suit to wear to his son's funeral.

Before Sunday night, Rickey Richardson's biggest fear was that his son would go off to college and forget his family. Now, Richardson's biggest fear is getting through the next day, the next hour, and the next minute without his son. But he shared a comforting message today -- one he hopes other parents will hear.

While Reece was alive, he told his son he loved him, that he was proud of him. He spent time with his son, he set rules for him, he tried to be a good role model. In the end, Rickey Richardson has no regrets about his relationship with Reece. He says if God had told him from the beginning he would only have 17 years with this child, he would still have taken it.

Tomorrows are not guaranteed. Richardson knows it. He told me to go home and hug my kids, and he hopes you will too...

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  • justwondering2 Jan 24, 2007

    I saw the interview and it touched my heart in so many ways. Ricky had a beautiful testimony and I wish WRAL would show the interview on the air because so many people that I have spoken with have not seen this video. The interview is something that every person needs to hear. It is a testimony of true faith.

  • LibertarianTechie Jan 24, 2007

    What a great message. Unfortunately, it has taken such a tragedy for it to come out and for us to receive it.

  • finallysingle Jan 24, 2007

    Mr. Richardson,I feel your pain,as I have lost a child also.You seem to be a wonderful father.I only hope time will ease your pain,as your son is now growing his wings.

  • packandcanesfan Jan 24, 2007

    I saw the interview in its entirety and it broke my heart and made me cry. Not only from the father's words but the face of the heartbroken mother who could do nothing but cling to her husband for support. My thanks to you Amanda for just allowing Mr. Richardson to talk and let the true emotions and wise words flow. What a wonderful relationship this dad and son had. A great message to tell your loved ones that you love them.. EVERYDAY!!! Never take for granted that there will be another opportunity. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families involved. What a hard thing to face.

  • spyangel84 Jan 24, 2007

    I didn't really get to know Reece's family but my cuz went to his school and they were really good friends. He seemed like a really nice guy. I wanted to tell the family God bless them and I'll keep you in my prayers.

  • crazymom501 Jan 24, 2007

    What a special message from MR. Richardson, I dont even know him but boy I was crying my eyes out!! Being a parent sure puts more in perspective!! God Bless your family and your son must have been a hotty because the girls sure love his myspace!!

  • highergame4me Jan 24, 2007

    God Bless Him and His Family!!!!

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.