Monday 18 November 2019

Profiles: Alison Parker and Adam Ward were the "kindest and nicest people"

Alison Parker and Adam Ward Credit: WDBJ-TV
Alison Parker and Adam Ward Credit: WDBJ-TV
Alison Parker in the WDBJ TV studio

David Kearns

Reporter Alison Parker was a "rock star", according to staff at WDBJ who describe the 24-year-old as the "most radiant woman" in the world.

In a series of touching tributes to their colleagues killed earlier today live on air, staff at the TV station said Alison Parker and Adam Ward were two of "the kindest and nicest people" at the station.

On Wednesday morning, Ms Parker and Mr Ward, both employees of the Virginia TV station WDBJ, were shot and killed while doing a live report from a shopping district.

The suspected gunman was named as Vester L. Flanagan (41), a former WDBJ reporter who was fired from the station two years ago.

WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks told the BBC he was not aware of any connection between them and suspected shooter - who lately killed himself when confronted by police.

"What do you do? Do you imagine that everyone who leaves your company under difficult circumstances is going to take aim?" he said.

Alison Parker and boyfriend Chris Hurst
Alison Parker and boyfriend Chris Hurst

The two journalists had been working together as a team at WDBJ7-TV for almost a year.

Ms Parker grew up in Virginia and worked as a morning reporter at WDBJ7.

She started as an intern at the news station and covered stories including a train derailment, car crashes, Roanoke's recycling programme, and a tomato festival.

She had also spent time working at WCTI NewsChannel 12 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Adam Ward proposing to Melissa Ott in December last year
Adam Ward proposing to Melissa Ott in December last year

Her boyfriend, Chris Hurst, also worked at the station as a mental health reporter.

Posting on Twitter, Mr Hurst said: "We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married. We just celebrated her 24th birthday. She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason she loved me back. She loved her family, her parents and her brother."

Meanwhile, Mr Marks said that cameraman Adam Ward was greatly admired and respected by his colleagues at WDBJ7.

Originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, he was educated at Hampden Sydney College and graduated in 2003.

The cameraman had been engaged to one of his colleagues, producer Melissa Ott , and they were in the process of planning their wedding when he died. 

A keen golfer, Mr Ward managed to captured the face of the gunman on his camera during the shooting.

Following the killings,  WDBJ presenters paid tribute to both Mr Ward and Ms Parker.

"They were special peoole and brightened up a room every morning when we're sleepy and tired. 

"Today was like any other day... they did great work every day put their all into everything they did.

"We are here for remembrances of these two really fine journalists, and more than that, fine people."

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