Tuned In Exclusive: Lisa Colagrossi’s Husband Says Morning Shift Was ‘Contributing Factor’ to Her Death

11081013_402089466636141_5445076497163986496_nIt’s been a month since the WABC-TV family lost Lisa Colagrossi. But the ones really dealing with the tragedy are her husband of 17 years, Todd Crawford, and her two boys.

Crawford, in an exclusive conversation with Tuned In, says he’s overwhelmed by the support from the broadcasting industry.

“It was very comforting and very touching,” Crawford says. “What we knew before all of this happened is how important that she was to us. But what we didn’t realize was how special she was to a lot of other people around the country.”

While Crawford is so appreciative of the condolences, he recognizes it can only provide temporary support.

“We’ll never replace someone like Lisa. We would need four people to replace one Lisa; that’s how much she meant to our family.”

Colagrossi died suddenly from a brain aneurysm after working on a story in Queens for the morning newscast on Channel 7.  Crawford says the medical problem is genetic, but Colagrossi had no symptoms and there was no a family history.

TV news is a cutthroat, stressful business. But Crawford contends the pre-dawn shift, which Colagrossi held for years, can be brutal.

“You’re forced to be part of SAG/AFTRA in this industry, and you pay very hefty dues, ” Crawford says. “This is not a slam on the union, but there’s nobody that can understand the physical and emotional toll on Lisa’s quality of life that she endured as a result of working this shift.

“You can’t compare somebody that leaves the house at 1:30 in the morning for 14 years and gets home at 2 o’ clock in the afternoon, to somebody that reports for an 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. shift, or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. [You] simply can’t do it.”

Lisa FamilyHowever, Colagrossi, who would have turned 50 May 9, stuck with mornings to spend some quality time with her sons, now 11 and 15 next month.

“The sacrifices that Lisa had to make, and the compromises that we had to make as a family, were tremendous,” Crawford says. “Someone needs to start looking at things a little differently, in terms of how these contracts are negotiated for people who work the overnight shift.”

He says Colagrossi averaged 5-6 hours of sleep nightly during her years at Channel 7.

But Crawford stops short of saying his wife would be alive today if she worked different hours at WABC.

“I don’t know that anybody can say that and make the link… But certainly I think it was a contributing factor to some degree.”

Perhaps that led to Colagrossi’s mother, as reported by the New York Post, confronting WABC news director Camille Edwards at the funeral. Instead of welcoming Edwards’ embrace, she apparently yelled something about her daughter dying because of being overworked.

“Certainly, her mother was deep in grief… No one was privy to the conversation except Lisa and her mother,” Crawford says. “But from my personal viewpoint, Camille, Dave Davis [President/GM] and the ABC family have been tremendously supportive.”

Missing the family’s breadwinner, Crawford has established the Lisa Colagrossi Memorial Trust, with funds going specifically to their children’s education. Anyone interested can donate at GoFundMe.com. A goal of $250,000 would pay toward current private schooling and future college planning.

For now, Crawford says he and the sons can only try to cope with such a huge hole in the family.

“It’s something that’s going to take a very, very long time– many years– to get to a point where we can just go forward without grieving in some way.”

Photo #2: Courtesy of Todd Crawford

4 thoughts on “Tuned In Exclusive: Lisa Colagrossi’s Husband Says Morning Shift Was ‘Contributing Factor’ to Her Death

  1. Ted David

    I know that when someone as vital, as beautiful and as wonderful as Lisa was, it is hard to find answers for why they suddenly are gone. But in this case, medically speaking, her cause of death is quite clear: a brain aneurysm. This is a weak spot in a blood vessel of the brain. This is something people are often born with or that can develop over time. BUT it has nothing to do with lifestyle, work, the hours you keep or anything else but fate. Many of us are walking around with aneurysms of the brain, the abdominal aorta etc. We just don’t know we have them because we have not been scanned and they have not burst. Yet. And they may never. In Lisa’s case her brain aneurysm had nothing to do with her shift or her work. Her loss loss is tragic but it is unfair to blame anything or anyone. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. This surely is one of those times. May she rest in peace.

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    1. Matt Nelko

      Sorry Ted, but I vehemently disagree. As someone who’s been working some form of late night/overnight/early morning shift for more than 20 years, I can tell you it’s not only possible, but quite PROBABLE that her shift was a direct contributor to her death. I’m on semi-permanent male hormone replacement therapy to rebuild a nearly-completely destroyed endocrine system because of my shift work. Most mainstream doctors still have their heads in the sand over this, but thank God there are at least some progressive physicians out there who are waking up (pardon the pun) to the realization that when non-nocturnal creatures like humans are forced to live against the Earth’s circadian rhythm, our bodies revolt. Just over the course of the past year, I’ve buried SIX colleagues — no one over 60! This is NOT normal. Ask anybody else in any other industry how many colleagues THEY have buried, and most will look at you like you’re crazy. But in broadcasting, it seems like at least once a month there’s yet another notice posted at the elevator about how yet another colleague has passed away, with funeral information. Regardless of whether it’s a heart attack, stroke, cancer (or sadly, suicide), we’re expected to believe these deaths are all just random, and have nothing to do with the toxic lifestyles we’re forced to live, with a deadly combination of sleep deprivation and extreme sustained stress. Lisa’s husband hit it on the nail; our jobs are killing us. If you’re not getting a solid 8 hours of sleep AT NIGHT, the way Nature intended, you are sleep deprived, and you are slowly and inexorably damaging your body; sleeping during the day, your body will never go into the deepest levels of restorative sleep it needs (it’s a built-in primal instinct; the human body knows that predators are afoot during the day, so no matter how much you “black out” your bedroom or drug yourself, you’re never getting that restorative sleep). And that’s ANOTHER thing; the drugs most of us hate to admit we use on a regular basis to get to sleep. Oh sure, the government (and mainstream doctors) assure us they’re “safe”. Maybe. If you take them once in a blue moon. But not like shift workers who pop them like vitamins day after day, month after month, year after year. Over time, they absolutely weaken our blood vessels. How many of us all are ticking time bombs like our dear Lisa?

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    2. Andrew Cheney

      That’s nonsense! That’s like saying stress isn’t a contributing factor for a heart attack even though there’s a family history.

      Reply
  2. Alan Inkpen

    Shift work disorder is real and has been associated with cardio-vascular disease, some cancers, and “dementia-like” cognitive impairment. I have worked the crazy overnight hours of morning TV and it can verify how damaging it can be. My heart-felt condolences to Lisa and her family. Shift work may not have caused her aneurysm but it sure as hell didn’t do it any good.

    Reply

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