Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Eye Opener: How did IRS workers survive that plane crash?

By Ed O'Keefe


Smoke billows from a seven-story building where offices of the IRS are located in Austin, Tex., after a small private plane crashed into it in February (AP)

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday and Happy St. Patrick's Day! Have you wondered how so many people safely escaped last month's plane crash at Internal Revenue Service offices in Texas?

The plane's pilot and only one IRS worker were killed in the crash -- thanks to quick-thinking employees who had regularly rehearsed fire and evacuation drills.

National Treasury Employee Union President Colleen M. Kelley told lawmakers on Tuesday about the experiences of some of those workers during a House hearing on federal building security. Though it's not the definitive account of the crash and its aftermath, Kelley's testimony merits a mention here:

Upon impact, the burning fuel from the plane quickly filled the air with black smoke making it impossible for many in the building to see anything. Yet, employees near exits delayed their own escape so others could follow their voices and find their way out. Employees who were outside the building went back in to help evacuate disabled employees who worked in the mail room.
An IRS employee with a disability told her co-worker to leave her on the fourth floor because she could not walk down the stairs. He insisted she climb on his back, saying he had carried soldiers that way when he was in the service. He carried her on his back down the four flights to safety.
Andrew Jacobson and Morgan Johnson and four others were trapped on the second floor of the building, unable to get to the exit because of smoke, flames, heat and debris. They crawled on their hands and knees, breathing through clothing they had dampened with water, looking for a way out.
Morgan shouted through a broken window and got the attention of Robin DeHaven, an employee of a glass company, who was miraculously passing by with a 20 foot ladder on his truck. Robin, later dubbed 'Robin Hood' by those he rescued, stopped and tried to reach the trapped employees. The ladder could not reach the window that was already broken. Andrew remembered a four foot metal crow bar used for property seizures was kept in the office.
After a few attempts and several gashes to his hand and wrist, Andrew and the others succeeded in breaking a window through which they could get out and reach the ladder, clearing the glass and helping each other down Robin DeHaven’s ladder to safety.

During the hearing the Federal Protective Service officials said they have taken several steps to address security gaps first exposed last year.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Question of the Week: How can your federal agency assist more with such issues as child care and providing greater support in general as government employees seek a work/life balance? Send your answers to federaleye@washingtonpost.com and please include your full name, hometown and employer. We may use your comments in Friday's Washington Post.

Cabinet and Staff News: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel responds to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Israel. With subtle shift in nuance, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton once again reiterates the U.S. stance on Israel. Special Envoy George Mitchell postpones his trip to the Middle East amid the U.S.-Israel spat. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says Osama bin Laden won't be caught alive. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Deputy Secretary Ronald Sims, plus three assistant secretaries and aides are headed to Rio! Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to attend a Fatherhood Forum in North Carolina. A Q&A with the White House Drug Czar R. Gil Kerlikowske.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Army drops bayonets, busts abs in training revamp: New soldiers are grunting through the kind of stretches and twists found in "ab blaster" classes at suburban gyms as the Army revamps its basic training regimen for the first time in three decades.

E-mails suggested Fort Hood suspect subpar for Army: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was too fat and "chronically" unprofessional during his psychiatric training, according to internal e-mails exchanged by his superiors.

Petraeus: 'Time has come' to rethink gay policy: The general stopped short of saying whether he personally believed if the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell" is outdated or unfair.

FCC:
FCC calls new broadband plan vital: Telecommunications companies praised the intent but worried that new regulations might impede rather than encourage their progress in expanding Internet access.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
Moran resolute in his support of federal workers: The Virginia Democratic lawmaker introduced a resolution on Monday designed to raise public awareness about prevent attacks against federal workers.

Next December's COLA increase estimated at 0.1%: There was no COLA in 2009 after the formula for determining the federal adjustment revealed consumer prices had dropped by about 2 percent between the third quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2008.

HOMELAND SECURITY:
DHS halts expansion of virtual border fence: It halted expansion on Tuesday, citing cost overruns and missed deadlines.

Measure would force White House, private sector to collaborate in cyber-crisis: The Cybersecurity Act is an attempt to prod the Obama administration and Congress to be more aggressive in crafting a coordinated national strategy for dealing with cyberthreats. It is to be unveiled Wednesday.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
U.S. opens spigot for California farmers: The announcement further eases drought concerns in a state where El Niño rains have raised the mountain snowpack after three severely dry years.

Fishing ban? No way, officials say: Despite Internet reports to the contrary, officials say a federal task force will not suggest that President Obama restrict sportfishing off America's coasts and in the Great Lakes.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
Few blacks serve in top U.S. diplomatic posts: The department has high numbers of black employees overall, but few minorities are climbing to senior frontline posts that wrestle day to day with some of the nation's most urgent international challenges.

TSA:
U.S. air travelers complain about body scans: Hundreds of U.S. air travelers have lodged complaints over use of full-body security scanners in the past year, charging they violate personal privacy and may be harmful to their health.

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter | Submit your news tips here

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Borrowed time' for federal building security?
Next: GAO: TSA scanners may not have stopped Detroit bomb plot

Comments

The nice thing about safety drills is that they teach people not to panic. You don't need everyone not to panic, just most people. Enough to deal with the few who do. It is something of a wonder more people were not hurt or killed. It's a real testament to the worth of safety drills too. It doesn't take a plane crashing for a serious fire to wreck havoc quickly in an office building.

I was most relieved that all these people were ok. If a lot of little things had happened differently, and people had not acted the way they did, more people would have died. Instead, everyone made the best choices they could, and chose to help others too. Those are the sorts of things that are good about Americans. They vastly outnumber the efforts of one bad actor.

Posted by: Nymous | March 17, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Please call it what it was: a terrorist attack.

Posted by: RatherBeOnATrain | March 17, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Didn't the murderer's daughter say that while she was sorry about the woman getting kiilled (I'm sure that was a relief to her family), she still regarded her father as a hero and understood his motives? He killed one innocent person, and nearly killed many more, and bettered the lives, even a little bit, of no one.

Posted by: Sutter | March 17, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Rebel scum.

Posted by: corrections | March 17, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

>>>Fishing ban? No way, officials say: Despite Internet reports to the contrary, officials say a federal task force will not suggest that President Obama restrict sportfishing off America's coasts and in the Great Lakes.

Sounds like another hoax by Teabaggers.
jeeeeeez

Posted by: angie12106 | March 17, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to see so many side with this terrorist. They see his actions as "justified" and understand why he did what he did

It is sad because these same people were OUTRAGED during 9/11 when the Muslims felt they were "justified" due to religious reasons and flew into the WTC's.

Posted by: Bious | March 17, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company