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Media presses for answers

June 24, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

City Hospital spokeswoman Teresa McCabe didn't expect her last day of work before vacation to be so chaotic.

McCabe was alerted at about 2 p.m. Friday that a man wanted for questioning in a Utah kidnapping case was a patient in the Martinsburg hospital's intensive care unit.

It wasn't long before local and national media were pressing her repeatedly for information, which is usually limited when a person's medical condition is concerned.

The local media arrived at the hospital first. McCabe was already fielding requests for interviews from across the country.

Looking down at a message on a yellow sticky note, she shook her head and said, "Larry King Live - how about that?"

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She had already done wire service and cable TV interviews and more outlets were calling.

Late in the afternoon, after sharing what she knew with a few reporters, McCabe said there probably would be nothing else to say for the day and there would not be a press conference.

Then, more reporters from greater distances trickled in. McCabe repeated details for one news crew after another from the networks and the Washington and Baltimore affiliates, plus a stringer from Time magazine.

Finally, word got out - incorrectly - that McCabe had scheduled a 6:30 p.m. press conference outside.

Without any choice, McCabe spoke to a forest of TV cameras and a thicket of microphones in the hospital parking lot, in time for the evening news.

"In my 20 years in media, I've never dealt with a situation of this magnitude," she said.

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