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Covering 9/11: The 40-hour drive

With flights grounded after Sept. 11 attacks, Los Angeles Times staff photographers Wally Skalij and Kirk McKoy were dispatched to New York -– by car. Skalij later wrote this short piece for Among Ourselves, the Los Angeles Times employee newsletter.

By Wally Skalij

Kirk McKoy and I drove from Los Angeles to New York in about 40 hours, including a 1-hour stop in Oklahoma City to see the memorial for the New York disaster. We took 6-hour shifts driving and only stopped for gas and food, which we ate on the road.

The photo [first in the above gallery] with the National Guardsman in the foreground and “Ground Zero” in the background was shot by sneaking past the police barricades. I wore a hard hat and fireman’s jacket and hid my camera underneath my jacket. I proceeded to take photos very carefully. Some photographers were arrested for impersonating rescue personnel. I stood right there for 10 minutes before I shot my first frame and tried to act like an amateur photographer.

The photo of the mother and son in the stairwell [second in the gallery] was taken after the reporter and I spotted them in the street and approached to talk to them. She was returning to her apartment for the first time and wanted to see the view of the area from the roof where the stairs are. At that point she remembered that the fish were not fed and had probably died, and her boy started to cry.

Other Los Angeles Times photographers were dispatched after airline service resumed.

The above gallery consists of images by Times photographers Wally Skalij, Kirk McKoy, Allen J. Schaben and Rick Loomis.

Coming Thursday: Times photographers Gary Friedman and Robert Gauthier reflect on some of their 9/11 images.