Five-year-old Kaden Casebolt takes his brand new AmTryke for a spin.
(ROCKWALL, TX – March 28, 2017) Fox 4 News Traffic Anchor Chip Waggoner joined Lakeside Ambucs as the guest speaker for its meeting last week at Cotton Patch Cafe in Rockwall, where the Ambucs presented a local family and their five-year-old boy with one of their special AmTrykes.
Kaden Casebolt’s big smile lit up the room as he pedaled around the room on his new AmTryke, a therapeutic tricycle which provides children with special needs all the fun benefits of riding a bike: mobility, strength, coordination, and interaction with family and friends.
Waggoner said the look on Kaden’s face as he rode around the room reminded him of the day Lakeside Ambucs presented an AmTryke to his own son, Benjamin, who was born with Spina Bifida causing him to have limited movement in his lower extremities.
“Those eyes are very similar to my son’s and it’s a source of strength for me, where no matter what he’s going through, he’s just happy to be here. What a difference that makes,” Waggoner said.
Fox 4 News Traffic Anchor Chip Waggoner tells about his experiences as an airborne reporter at the Lakeside Ambucs meeting on Monday, March 21, at Cotton Patch Cafe in Rockwall.
Waggoner has worked for Fox 4 News for 20 years, and was first hired as an airborne reporter providing news coverage onboard a Fox 4 News helicopter. He juggled multiple roles in that capacity, including cameraman, engineer, and tape deck editor – a lot of jobs rolled into one, he said, except that he did not fly the chopper. Instead, he teased that he would always try to manipulate the pilot into doing whatever was necessary to get the story.
“I would always try to talk my pilot into doing things he probably shouldn’t do. I would have to talk to my pilot before we even got into the chopper and I would say, ‘Listen, when we get up there it’s game time! I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the story. If something I ask you to do is not a good idea, please just say so, and I promise you I will initially get angry. And then I will try to convince you to do it anyway. But you have to stand your ground, and I will respect you later, it’s just the heat of the moment,’” Waggoner said.
Waggoner recalled a close call one hot and hazy summer day when one of his pilots did not heed that advice. They were flying around Rockwall when they got a call about some breaking news over in Addison. The quickest route would have them fly straight in between two developing thunderstorms about 15 miles apart, which the pilot let Waggoner know was called a “sucker hole” and that it was a bad idea to take that route.
“He let me talk him into it, and we started straight away making a beeline for the breaking news. Within about 30 seconds, a lightning bolt goes off and I promise you, the bolt’s trail was literally right on us,” Waggoner said. “Obviously, the pilot immediately turned around and headed back the other way, and I’m just like, ‘I told you not to let me talk you into doing things you’re uncomfortable doing.’”
On July 30, 2007, Waggoner was onboard the Fox 4 News helicopter with KRLD traffic reporter Julie DeHarty and pilot Curtis Crump when the chopper experienced what he referred to as a “hard landing” due to an engine failure. “We were flying to breaking news in Tarrant County and were just over Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie when we suffered an engine failure. It turned out that there were internal fissures that you couldn’t see in one of the compressor wheels, and as we were flying it gave way. It literally got sucked into the engine and the engine blew up in midair.
“When the bells and whistles went off, I pointed to an open field that I saw for the pilot to try and land. As we made our turn into that area we had a number of factors going against us: it had been a wet summer, there was no wind whatsoever, and the ground of the open field was not level. The good news is the pilot kept the skids approximately level when we hit the ground. To me, it was like it was all in slow motion, and we finally ended up on our side. Still to this day it felt like we skidded hundreds of yards, when it reality it was a hundred feet.”
Waggoner said he suffered nothing more than a slipped disc in his neck from the crash, but DeHarty’s injuries were a little bit worse; She had a compression fracture from hitting her head on the ceiling during the incident.
“When I pulled her out and we had to walk up the dam, which was a good half-mile walk up a very steep slope, she could’ve taken one bad step, something could’ve shifted and she would’ve been a paraplegic for life. Thankfully that did not happen, and I didn’t find all that out until later at the hospital. She did have to have surgery. She’s lost some mobility but she’s okay, and that’s a tremendous blessing,” he said.
Waggoner spent 12 years working onboard the news chopper until he moved into the Fox 4 studio in 2008, where he currently works as a traffic anchor. He said he enjoys the atmosphere and the people he gets to work with every day in the studio.
“It’s a fun place to work and I love the people I work with. The people you see on a daily basis on air generally are the same as what you see in person. We don’t try to pull any punches, we don’t try to be something that we’re not, and I think that has really shown through in our show.”
About Lakeside Ambucs
Created in 1922, AMBUCS consists of a diverse group of business men and women dedicated to creating mobility and independence for disabled children and wounded veterans by providing them with Amtrykes – a tricycle designed specifically to tailor to the needs of children with mobility issues and disabilities – at no cost. Lakeside AMBUCS comprises of a caring group of volunteers from around the Lake Ray Hubbard area who go to great lengths to ensure that every child has the opportunity to play and grow. For more information visit lakesideambucs.org.
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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