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Remember Jessica Savitch on KHOU?


devonhart

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Ah yes, the wonderful days of doubleknit polyester and Kodak Instamatic cameras, both of which are near the top of the list for crappy things we used in the 70's.

I always liked watching the news with Jessica Savitch, she was good a tit. Too bad her life was a train wreck.

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I remember her as one of the first anchorwomen, and I remember the day she died.

 

I would point her out as a Houstonian, like Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite.I would use them as examples of how Houstonians do not necessarily have Texas accents.

 

I later went to New Hope, on the Delaware Canal north of Philadelphia and saw how it happened. On the new jersey side of the canal, just blocks from the historic tourist area where there are bars,is a bridge that leads to Pennsylvania. Right before you cross, there is a driveway that drops steeply down (preautomobile) and if you were to turn on it, on a dark night, you would go right down to the canal path and river very quickly. IF you turned into the drive way, you would speed up do the the steep drop, and not be able to stop, In the daytime, it is clear, but at night it is a driveway leading into a black hole. I think it was not paved, just dirt. 

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Savitch was not a Houstonian. Far from it. She was born in Kennett Square Pennsylvania, coincidentally, a small town not very far from where she died in the town of New Hope. She was educated in the east and most of her TV career was there in the northeast.

 

As a retired Houston reporter who covered many of the same stories she covered, I can tell you she absolutely detested Houston and the south in general. Houston was "the sticks" for her, and she made no secret of her disdain. She was in Houston just getting enough experience and exposure to help her get back to "big time" TV up north.

 

She and a guy she was dating both drowned in that New Hope canal that night. On October 23, 1983, Savitch had dinner with Martin Fischbein, vice-president of the New York Post. After their meal at Odette's Restaurant, they began to drive home about 7:15 pm, with Fischbein behind the wheel and Savitch in the back seat with her dog, Chewy.

 

Fischbein may have missed posted warning signs in a heavy rainfall, and he drove out of the wrong exit from the restaurant and up the towpath of the old Pennsylvania Canal's Delaware Division on the Pennsylvania side of the  Delaware River. The car veered too far to the left and went over the edge into the shallow water of the canal. After falling approximately fifteen feet and landing upside down, the station wagon sank into deep mud that sealed the doors shut.

 

Savitch and Fischbein were trapped inside as water poured in. A local resident found the wreck at about 11:30 that night. Fischbein's body was still strapped behind the wheel, with Savitch and her dog in the rear seat. After the autopsies, the coroner ruled that both had drowned. He noted that Fischbein was apparently knocked unconscious in the wreck but Savitch had struggled to escape. There was no finding that drugs or alcohol played any part in the crash.

 

A truly tragic ending to be sure. Personally, and professionally, I never thought she was as "great" a reporter or anchor as she thought she was.  All she had going for her was her ego driven ambition and a willingness to use her looks to open the right doors. She was also very high strung and one of the most tightly wound people I ever met.

 

 

 

 

Edited by FilioScotia
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Interesting, so I heard wrong.Back when she was on Houston TV (and I lived there at the time, but rarely watched TV) I heard that she was "from houston". I was frequently driving from Poughkeepsie to Philadelphia by 1983, and the route I liked to take was along the Delaware river (and canal). I checked out the site a few months after it happened. Now that I have watched the youtube videos, I see a strung out, confused, disoriented person. She looks like she is ready to crack in every frame.  

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