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Son of Phoenix Reporter Killed in Helicopter Crash Speaks with Mike Broomhead on Anniversary

It’s been 16 years since a tragic incident in Phoenix, where two TV helicopters collided while covering a high-speed chase, killing four people, including ABC15 cameraman Rick Krolak. His son, Colton Krolak, is a reporter on KTAR News 92.3 FM. On Friday, he joined The Mike Broomhead Show to discuss his father’s death anniversary.

Changes to federal guidelines governing news helicopter operations were made after the incident. Colton was only 14 years old when his father passed away. 

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“A single event can change every aspect of your life moving forward forever, and that’s really what it was,” said Krolak. “It was a nightmare that you just kept waiting to wake up from, and it just never happened. Like a bad dream, you’re waiting for the alarm clock to go off, and it just never came.”  

Colton was getting ready to start high school when the crash occurred. He credits his mother’s love with helping him get through that traumatic period in his life.   

“They weren’t married at the time, but still, they were very close; they worked as a team to bring me up, which is sometimes hard in divorce to have that compassion for each other and to want the best for your child, and they did.”  

The incident also killed Craig Smith, the pilot of Channel 15 (KNXV), as well as Scott Bowerbank and Jim Cox, who served as the pilot and cameraman, respectively, for Channel 3 (KTVK). 

“My dad took an early shift at the station; he worked at 3 AM so that he could be off in time to pick me up from school,” said Colton. “That’s the kind of relationship that they (his parents) had, as they always put me first.”  

Colton expressed his appreciation for the anniversary because it signifies that his father and colleagues are still being held in people’s memories. 

“These people that watch these journalists, they became a part of their lives,” said Colton. “The people who cover the story became the story which made it so fascinating to people and so tragic for an entire community.  

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