During Monday night’s episode of The Late Show, the 55-year-old comic shared that he lost not only his father James but two of his older brothers, Paul and Peter, in a plane crash in the 1970s.
“I lost my father and two of my brothers when I was a boy to a plane crash that was also in heavy fog,” Colbert said.
He recounted that his family members were aboard Eastern Airlines Flight 212 before it crashed somewhere in North Carolina on Sept. 11, 1974. At the time, he Colbert only 10 years old.
The TV host shared his own emotional story only one day after Bryant’s passing.
“I feel a strange connection to… those who’ve gone through this particular tragedy, including not only the family and friends of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant but also the families of John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan,” Colbert said, listing off all of the victims of the fatal crash.
“One of the terrible things about that shock and the heartbreaking unreality, nightmare quality of someone huge in your life who just disappears — the centre of your love — is not knowing what happened.”
Colbert said he “wouldn’t wish” that connection “on anybody.”
Furthermore, the TV host called on the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), questioning why helicopters don’t have black box recorders — recoverable and virtually indestructible audio devices that capture all voice recordings and radio transmissions during flights.
“While nothing will possibly improve this tragedy, while nothing will take away this heartbreak and this pain from this family that will be living for this with the rest of their lives … that perhaps someone could take action to make sure that there are some ways to record what is happening in these helicopters so that it doesn’t happen as often,” Colbert said.
“To do nothing after helicopters go down like this and we lose greats like this, or we lose any person whose family is now in agony and in ignorance of what happened to their loved one, I think, is unconscionable.
“I hope the NTSB will do something to improve the conditions for helicopter pilots and the information they can get if a tragedy like this happens,” Colbert said. “These people are now in misery.
“Why compound their misery with mystery about what happened to their loved ones?”
You can see a snippet of Colbert’s speech in the video above.
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