AJAs 2016 Finalists


Date Aired or Published April 26, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: Kings County Record
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Sussex, N.B.
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

This is not an anniversary piece as much as it is a reunion written into a newsclipping capturing an event so tragic it is hardly spoken about, yet thought of often. The two-part story is of a remarkable bond that has never been revisited because of the pain that surrounds a bus crash that occurred in Sussex, N.B., 15 years ago. That bus was carrying children of a middle school in Newtown, Mass., who were excitedly making their way to a music festival in Halifax. Four children died in the ditch in the small dairy town, an international border away from their parents. While there has been no continued relationship physically in all the years since, Scott-Wallace was captivated by the story she learned of as a young journalist and wondered what became of those families and how the children who died in Sussex are remembered. And in Sussex, she wondered how the emergency responders and volunteers who ache with the memory reflect on that dark day. It was not hard to find the players involved on the New Brunswick end since so many of them including the first RCMP officer on the scene who is now retired in the same community, and the former mayor who remains on town council were easy to reach. But in Newton, the challenge was greater with so many years passed. Those young children who died would have been grown up with children of their own now. Much searching through Facebook, obituaries and school directories finally led to parents of some of the children killed, and the music teacher who still feels those children died on his watch. This submission is a story that contains such deep sorrow but led to the most remarkable outcome. The people in Newton were able to thank the people of Sussex all these years later, and reveal to the people here that every year, on the anniversary, not only the children are remembered on the school grounds where the town of Sussex donated a memorial stone, but the people of Sussex are thanked and remembered for the love they showed. This story is the first time most people in Sussex ever learned what happened in the aftermath of that accident where, back in the United States, a lawsuit was successful for the families of that tragedy. As is typical of a small newspaper, the greatest resource you have is the time and compassion you give.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Tammy Scott-Wallace spent weeks building up contacts, hearing their stories and compiling them into this strong two-part piece. Scott-Wallace continued to cover her region, filling the weekly paper and keeping the website fresh, but in the meantime, she didn't give up on this story which took many hours beyond the day-to-day.

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