Ground Zero of the BP Oil Spill: Six Years Later
UConn Environmental Journalism, May, 2016
"When John Boss was a kid growing up in Grand Isle, La, it was normal to come home from a day at the beach with black feet and a collection of tar balls washed up from the oil fields miles off shore.
The people of Grand Isle are resilient, said Boss, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Grand Isle, but even Hurricane Katrina didn’t prepare them for the BP Oil Spill on April 20, 2010. While Katrina was an “act of God,” in Boss’ words, the explosion that caused the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to spew 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days was caused by human negligence alone.
That made all the difference to Boss and other residents of Grand Isle. That made it personal.
“With hurricanes we know how to clean up because we’re used to that,” Boss said nearly six years later. “With the oil spill people didn’t have something to do with their energy.”
Contributions: "Ground Zero of the BP Oil Spill: Six Years Later" reporting, text and video. Team reporting, video and photography for related stories.
Ripple Effect: Childhood Drownings in Phoenix, Arizona
Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Program, May, 2017
"Eighteen-month-old Joy Laboda's lips and eyelids were purple. Her hair was coated in vomit from her father’s attempts to resuscitate her. Her limp body lay in the arms of an off-duty police officer who was performing chest compressions.
This was the first thing fire Capt. Patrick O’Neill saw when he jumped off of the truck at the Laboda home on Dec. 29, 2016.
O’Neill, who has worked for the Phoenix Fire Department for 12 years, said he immediately knew the situation was dire.
“This little girl was sopping wet,” he said. “She was very ice cold to the touch. Her skin was light blue and almost mottled.”
Despite decades of drowning prevention classes and public service campaigns, dozens of children still drown or nearly drown in the Phoenix area every year.
According to the City of Phoenix website, the Phoenix Fire Department responded to 75 total drownings and water-related incidents in 2016. Of those incidents, 41 involved children.
Contributions: Co-wrote "Ripple Effect" text, "Anatomy of a Drowning" animation and infographic, Phoenix Fire Department Reporting, GoPro Videos