December 17, 2004

Family, friends remember Teddy Ebersol

WASHINGTON, Conn. -- Speaking from a hospital bed wheeled into a memorial service for his son, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol tearfully thanked 400 relatives and friends who gathered Thursday night to remember 14-year-old Teddy.

The teenager was among three people killed in a Nov. 28 plane crash in southwestern Colorado. The three others aboard the executive jet, including his older brother and his father, were injured.

"I know that most of you in the room can't see me, but I'm Teddy's dad," Ebersol said during the ceremony at the Washington Montessori School. "I just wanted to say that tonight and every day since the crash, Susan and I have been overwhelmed by your love and affection from people everywhere, but most of all in this community."

Ebersol, who is married to actress Susan Saint James, wore a green baseball cap and was covered by a Boston Red Sox blanket.

The crash occurred while the plane was taking off in light snow, fog and freezing temperatures.

The accident killed Edward "Teddy" Ebersol, pilot Luis Alberto Polanco and flight attendant Warren Richardson III. Dick Ebersol and his 21-year-old son, Charlie, were hospitalized and co-pilot Eric Wicksell was critically injured.

Federal authorities are investigating whether ice on the wings contributed to the crash, and why the pilots did not de-ice the wings.

After Dick Ebersol spoke, Charlie Ebersol talked about his brother and recalled what Teddy said just before he died.

"In the last second he said, 'Dad, I'm scared,"' Charlie Ebersol said. "As if he just said it, it would go away."

The Ebersols handed out gray plastic bracelets with "A Whole New Race" written on them in white letters. The quote was from Teddy's graduation speech at the school last year, when he said, "The finish line is only the beginning of a whole new race."

They also gave out Red Sox cookies shaped like two red socks. Teddy was a fervent Red Sox fan.

Keith Knudsen, a member of the Doobie Brothers, sang one of the band's most popular songs, "Black Water," with counselors from Teddy's summer camp.

During the ceremony, people spoke of Teddy's many interests, which included SpongeBob SquarePants and Skittles candy.

Charlie Ebersol remembered Teddy's love for the Red Sox, who won the World Series this year for the first time since 1918.

"They were better because you believed. I love you for that," he said.

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