You know it's going to be a long week when one of the reporters in the media room has his toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste sitting at his workspace. I guess you can expect nothing less. After all, it is the wrongful death trial against Virginia Tech…the last hard news chapter of this story.
By the end of the first week, while draining, it has gone by relatively pain free. I'm not able to spend much time with my daughter, do my laundry or even get the dishes cleaned, but it still hasn't been that bad.
The days begin in Roanoke at seven with a 35 minute trip to Christiansburg. I have this urge to get there early because the media room is small and the fear of losing my workspace to an out-of-town reporter drives that ambition. Of course such an issue has never materialized.
I also like to get there early because I need to save space in downtown Christiansburg for the satellite truck. There are few places we can park that big truck and still get a signal while also being live in front of the courthouse for the evening news. That hasn't been any trouble either. In fact, there have only been two out of town reporters here all week: An AP reporter out of Richmond and a TV crew, for one day, also out of Richmond. It has been surprising. Even the gallery in the trial is empty and I've been wondering why. Maybe it's because this community, and the country, have had enough. Maybe the interest just isn't there anymore.
I know that isn't the case for the plaintiffs. While everyone else may be tired of this story, for the Peterson's and Pryde's to pursue this into a court where they will gain nothing more than what everyone else has already been given, clearly shows this trial is about answers. After all, if the plaintiffs prevail they won't win any more money than those families that have already settled - which is $100,000. Once individuals were removed from the lawsuit, as Dr. Steger recently was, the maximum allowed against the commonwealth is $100,000.
So while the Peterson's and the Pryde's may be the only ones to file the lawsuit, the answers uncovered here are for all the families of those killed April 16, 2007. It is for their interest. It is information that may finally help these families heal; and if it took going to court to get those answers then the least the rest of us can do is sit back, take away whatever lessons we can, and hope these people can finally find some sort of peace in their lives one day.