Kate Zernike ’86 was at her home in Montclair, N.J., getting her two boys — Frits, 8, and Nicolaas, 6 — ready for school on May 13 when a text message popped up on her cell phone. A friend was asking if she could drop off her own son at Kate’s house before the school bus arrived. There had been an accident in Philadelphia, the friend reported, and she needed to get to the hospital where the friend’s husband was to undergo emergency surgery.
Then came an email from Zernike’s boss, the Metro editor at The New York Times, Wendell Jamieson. “Can I lend you to National?” he asked. Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, on its way from Washington to New York and carrying 238 passengers, had crashed at 9:30 p.m. the night before.
Zernike needed to start reporting. Read the full article