New York Times Paris bureau chief Alissa J. Rubin, a former LA Times correspondent, dictated a reporter's notebook from her Istanbul hospital bed about the Iraq crash in which she was injured. The story runs with a graphic photograph of a bloodied Rubin by Adam Ferguson, the freelance photographer who was on assignment with her when their helicopter crashed last week. Rubin suffered broken wrists, a fractured skull and other injuries when the aid helicopter flown by the Iraqi military went down in the mountains of Kurdistan. The pilot died and several other passengers were injured.
From Rubin's piece:
When we finally got in the helicopter, it was 3:45 p.m., not a lot of daylight left. I had a seat on a load of bread, behind one of the door gunners. Otherwise, there were no seats, no seatbelts; it was the kind of flight the United States military would never have allowed....
I felt the helicopter hit something; later, someone said it was a rock. I thought the pilot would right it, but then I saw the ground come up. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew it was bad.
Later, someone told me the co-pilot shut off the fuel when they lost control, which made us stall. Otherwise, it might have caught fire and exploded.
When we went down, I thought, all right, we’re on a mountain, it’ll slide a long way before it stops. Stuff fell on me; I didn’t know if they were people or things. Then Ms. Dakhil landed on top of me.
Everyone was groaning. There were no screams, but everyone was groaning. Adam was great. He dragged me out of the helicopter, as I couldn’t possibly walk. Adam wrapped his scarf around my head to stop the bleeding.
A pesh merga soldier took off his kaffiyeh and wrapped my arms together so that they wouldn’t flap around. I thought it was really sweet at the time, but then I realized how sensible it was: He was immobilizing my arms because both my wrists were broken.
Photo of Rubin, left, and Vian Dakhil, a member of Iraq's Parliament by Adam Ferguson/NYT