ATLANTA - The WSB Radio team spent the day Monday remembering
"Captain" Herb Emory for all he did to help people in the metro Atlanta area.
Capt. Herb passed away Saturday.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Emory stopped to help at a car accident on South Burnt Hickory Road when he suddenly fell ill. He was transported to WellStar Douglas Hospital where he later died.
Emory had been with WSB Radio and Channel 2 Action News since 1991. Emory has served as an Atlanta traffic reporter since 1971.
"He is an iconic figure and will always be an iconic figure in Atlanta, north Georgia and especially his adopted hometown of Douglasville," said WSB Radio host and Channel 2 Traffic Reporter Mark Arum.
Monday afternoon the entire WSB traffic team came together for an on-air tribute to Capt. Herb.
“Honestly we are coming together to reminisce and console ourselves as a traffic team at the loss of our leader,” Arum said.
What started out as a tribute by the entire WSB traffic team, turned into a much-needed group therapy session with open microphones.
“Herb was one of my best friends. He was my big brother for 20 years,” said Channel 2’s Jason Durden.
All of Capt. Herb’s favorites, Arum, Durden, Mark MacCay, Doug Turnbull, Kim MacCarthy and Ashley Frasca -- gathered in one room helping themselves and so many radio listens get through the commute without him.
“Did anybody ever see a frown on that man’s face?” asked Durden.
“No. Well, it depends who won the NASCAR race,” said Turnball
The biggest surprise however was a call from the father of the man Capt. Herb rushed to help following a traffic accident.
“I have a real close experience with him. My son was actually the young man that he aided and pulled out of the vehicle,” the man told Arum.
The man said Capt. Herb got his son out moments before gasoline began to pour out of the vehicle.
“As sad as Herb’s passing is and as devastating as we all are you could not write a Hollywood script for a better ending to that man's life than doing what he did for your son,” Arum said.
Airport crew remembers Capt. Herb
While countless drivers trusted captain herb to get them out of traffic jams, he counted on his pilot and helicopter mechanics so he could do his job.
The crew at DeKalb-Peachtree airport told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that Capt. Herb was the consummate pro.
Avionics mechanic Joe Syracuse said it's painful to know that Capt. Herb will never again strap into the seat of his Bell Jet Ranger, along with his pilot and take to the skies helping untold thousands get to and from work every day.
"We were talking about in the shop this morning. All the guys were," Syracuse said. "We're a little biased cause we work on his stuff. But he was the best. "
And not just the best traffic reporter. The mechanics and techs that got Capt. Herb safely up in the air each day marveled at his trouble-shooting skills. If there was a problem with his transmitting equipment on board the chopper he usually figured it out.
“He was one of those guys who didn't complain about much, because he knew the system so well when he had a little issue. He'd feel it out for us," Syracuse said. "They key skill he had was the ability to deal with people."
Aviation tech Stephen Harris told said he was amazed by Capt. Herb’s endurance, working a split shift for decades in a job that required energy and focus.
"Seemed like a good role model. To other people in the business, pretty much look up to him," Harris said.
Harris and Syracuse said not only did they work on Herb’s chopper, but they also became some of his biggest fans.
“We're going to miss him, and right now everyone is worried about who is going to replace him whether any of the younger guys would keep up," Syracuse said.
The crew told Regan that Capt. Herb set high standards for everyone he worked with and mixed it with a unique sense of humor they'll never forget.
Capt. Herb remembered in the community
Capt. Herb loved to give back to the community.
Not only did he help so many of us navigate the metro Atlanta roads with his traffic reports, but through a local organization, he also worked hard to encourage people not to drink and drive.
Keeping drivers safe in metro Atlanta was a passion of Capt. Herb’s. He did it on the job and off helping to start a nonprofit, Team Georgia Back, in the '80s. They encourage safe and sober driving.
“He had the personality to go along with all of the things he really cared about and deeply believed in his heart,” said Bob Cucchi, executive director of Team Georgia Back.
Team Georgia has booths set up at sporting venues like Turner Field where they get people to sign up as designated drivers and now they have a special idea to honor Capt. Herb, by naming a designated driver booth in his honor, probably at the Georgia Dome.
Team Georgia also encourages safe holiday celebrations, the wearing of
seat belts and boating without drinking.
Cucchi said Capt. Herb was often an enthusiastic spokesperson for the nonprofit and the cause.
“His hope would be that we continue the work, continue to save lives and continue to make this community a better place to live, work and play,” Cucchi said. “I think Capt. Herb would be looking down and smiling at anything that we could do in his name.”
Cucchi said he just met with Capt. Herb two weeks ago to talk about a project.