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.”
“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