When the news began circulating through the Binghamton Senators team bus today that the Albany River Rats were involved in a bus accident early this morning, it obviously hit close to home for one passenger.
Grady Whittenburg, the B-Sens' director of broadcasting, was on that Elmira Jackals bus that hit the back of a tractor trailer, then shot down an embankment and into a Pennsylvania field during a late-night drive home in November of 2007. I spoke with Grady about an hour ago, and he talked about calling River Rats broadcaster Owen Newkirk -- himself a former Jackals radio guy -- and hearing him say, "We're just rolling back into Albany here. ... It sure was strange getting back on the bus after the accident."
Whittenburg added: "I said, 'I know all too well what you mean.' You never ride the bus the same way again, or at least mentally you don't. You're still sitting there obviously, but it's a situation, even personally, where I still find it hard to -- unless I'm totally exhausted -- it's pretty hard to sleep. And any little thing kind of jars me out of a very light sleep. And I'm sure that's what Owen, who I deal with on a regular basis being a radio friend of mine, but I'm sure that's what all those guys are going to go through now. ...
"You think about the possibility of it happening, then when it does, it's something that never leaves you. I don't wake up in a cold sweat at night, having nightmares about it, but when I'm on a bus and on road trips now with Binghamton, it's something I always think about, for sure."
Whittenburg, who believed word first reached the B-Sens today while former River Rats forward and Albany native Marc Cavosie was on the phone, passed on his hopes that River Rats commentator John Hennessy and those four players who were hospitalized were all doing well.