Volume 3, Issue 1 - Spring/Summer 2010
Message from the Director
The Forest Service places great emphasis on safety throughout the agency. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, accidents occur. On June 21, the Forest Service tragically lost two of our own. Dan Snider, 29, and Rodney Whiteman, 46, worked for the Morgantown, WV, Northeastern Area Forest Health Program office. They were killed along with their pilot, Patrick Jessup, when their small plane crashed just short of the runway in Lock Haven, PA. Dan and Rodney were conducting aerial pest detection surveys at the time, probably looking for signs of gypsy moths or other insects in the Allegheny National Forest and surrounding areas. Dan was a former student of Bill Smith, EFETAC scientist, and once worked for the Southern Research Station in Research Triangle Park. More recently, Bill and Dan had worked together on various risk assessments in the Allegheny National Forest. Clearly, Dan and Rodney were exceptional individuals who will be missed by all that knew them. Our sincerest sympathies go out to Dan’s wife and son, Rodney’s wife and daughter, and their many friends and colleagues.
The loss or injury of any colleague or friend raises inevitable questions. What went wrong? What could have been done to prevent this? Early newspaper reports about the plane crash hinted at mechanical failure, but the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is not complete. The Forest Service will conduct its own review. Both reviews could lead to changes in procedures designed to lessen the risk of a similar incident.
The loss of Dan and Rodney reminds us that many of the activities we undertake as professionals involve risk. Each summer, we hire crews to gather data in a variety of field studies. These crews often perform arduous work in remote locations. The data they collect is important, but not nearly as much as their safety. Over the years, EFETAC has been very fortunate to not have had any serious injuries. I attribute much of that to the diligence of our staff, especially those with specific safety responsibilities— Michael Gavazzi, Mark Ambrose, and Ginny Burgess. Everyone has a role in making sure that we perform our work in the safest manner possible. Safety first is more than a slogan.
Until next time,