On December 8, 2014 Ken Gemmell lost most of his family. It was a story that touched hearts here and across the nation. It was a story I had to report as breaking news, it was also one that broke me.
Covering the Gaithersburg plane crash for the first couple hours we were originally told by officials they didn’t believe there were any people in the homes that were hit by parts of the plane. It wasn’t until I was home later that night after my shift that the worst was confirmed. In addition to the 3 people who died on the plane there were 3 inside one of the homes.
3 year old Cole and newborn Devin died in their mother’s arms that morning. Police say Marie Gemmell was found holding her sons in an upstairs bathroom in their house which had caught fire. While everything about this story is tragic.. it was that line of information that tore right through me. As a mom of 2 young children, I cannot imagine what this mother had gone through trying to save her children.
Over the last month I have spent some time getting to know Marie’s husband Ken who was at work at the time of the crash. I can say he just may be the strongest person I know. He told me that he’s know Marie was trying to do anything she could to keep them calm.. to save them.. to make sure it wasn’t painful for them. He says she was a hero. She is.
After many weeks, messages back and forth and a long, heartfelt chat over a cup of coffee Ken agreed to let me tell their story. He now is in a new home not far from where he lost so much. It takes support and strength to go on but Ken is trying with the help of his 7 year old daughter Arabelle. Arabelle was at school at the time of the crash.. there are times even now Ken still struggles to explain to her what happened.
After spending a morning with Ken and Arabelle I hope through these stories I am able to capture not only the true love of a beautiful family but also the immeasurable strength this father has shown just months after losing so much. It is also a time to remember what Ken tells me is “just how good people can be.” The community support is still overwhelming but for the Gemmell’s it has also been instrumental as they try to move on.