Nightline: The Survivors
2002 | ABC News
On September 11, 2001 Louise Kurtz, 49, began her second day as an accountant at the Pentagon. She was standing by the office fax machine when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into her world. Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell, 40, was walking down a hallway when he thought he heard a bomb explode. Louise and Brian were two of the ten severely burned victims of the attack taken to the Washington Hospital Center, the premier burn unit in the Washington D.C., area. Nine of the victims survived. Three weeks after the attack, Producers Holly and Paul Fine visited the burn unit. A month later they returned, and after careful consultation with Mike Kurtz, Louise’s husband of 31 years, and Mel Birdwell, Brian’s wife of 14 years, they began to create The Survivors, a powerful account of extraordinary courage, of love and devotion between husbands and wives, of survival. For the first time cameras were allowed into the Burn Center at the Washington Hospital Center. Those cameras focus unflinchingly on scenes of pain and agony, but also on moments of tenderness, of shared grief and shared joy, of struggles and triumph. The reconstruction of bodies and lives becomes far more than an account of medical and personal achievement. It becomes a triumph of the human spirit. For ABC News Nightline, Ted Koppel serves as Managing Editor, Chris Bury as Anchor, Tom Bettag and Leroy Sievers as Executive Producers, Richard Harris and Gerry Holmes as Senior Producers. Paul Fine served as Photographer, Ron Aufdem-Brinke as Audio-Person, Julie Donofrio as Assistant Producer and Holly Fine as Editor for The Survivors. For providing a deeply moving and challenging document reminding us that the pain and the heroism of September 11 continue in the lives of wounded survivors and those who care for them, ABC News Nightline: The Survivors receives a Peabody Award.