NEAR MIAMI, Oklahoma -- SkyNews6 pilot Will Kavanagh says he'd never before encountered anything like the scene he covered in northeast Oklahoma Thursday morning.
Kavanagh and the News On 6 photojournalist flying with him provided live pictures of rescuers frantically trying to reach the victims after an SUV ran off a bridge into the Spring River.
Kavanagh flies Black Hawk helicopters in the National Guard, but also flew medical helicopters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.
"I've worked E.M.S. for about six years and I've never seen five medical helicopters on one scene," said Kavanagh.
He's sensitive to the fact that some viewers objected to some of the images shown by SkyNews6. However, Kavanagh says his experience indicated to him that the effort at the river was a rescue operation, not a recovery operation, when he arrived.
"The person had a chance at life," he said.
Kavanagh said the presence of the medical helicopters on the scene signaled that the crews on the ground thought anyone still in the water still had a chance at life.
He and his photographer, one of News On 6's most experienced, would never intentionally air video of someone who had died.
He says the rescue crews deserve tremendous credit for the coordination they used to save as many of the victims as possible. "They were able to pull out six people for a chance at life."
Kavanagh says he feels anxiety any time he arrives at a scene like the one he saw this morning.
"You see them down there and you want to get involved, but you have to take a breath and remember what your role is."