Chicago anchorman Randy Salerno died in a snowmobile crash while vacationing in northern Wisconsin.
Salerno was a passenger on the snowmobile, and the driver now faces charges.
Just like on the highway, alcohol and speed can be a deadly combination on the trails. Police say those two factors may have contributed to the fatal crash that killed Salerno.
It was a childhood friend of Salerno's that was driving the snowmobile. Scott Hirschey, 44, is now charged for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Hirschey will not appear in court until he is released from the hospital after suffering serious injuries himself in the crash.
Still, it was not the tragedy of Salerno's death that his colleagues wished to speak about Friday. Rather, they talked about his life and about the man who they said would light up any room he walked into.
The news of Randy Salerno's death came during the same newscast he has anchored for the last three years at WBBM. His colleagues were taken off the set during the program's last few minutes and given the news.
"We're just in tears. It's a shock. It's a total shock. Randy was only 45 years old. He had so much life ahead of him," said WBBM News Director Carol Fowler.
"He was like an on-air husband, and like annoying brother and just a real good buddy," said co-anchor Roseanne Tellez.
Salerno, who was vacationing with friends, was killed in a snowmobiling accident in Eagle River, Wisconsin Thursday night. Police there say Salerno was riding as a passenger because a snowmobile would not start after he and other snowmobilers had stopped at a local pub.
"I talked to one of his good friends this morning and he said, 'Gosh I just spoke to him yesterday, and I told him this isn't something to play with, be careful, just be careful, and now this," said Fowler.
A graduate of Illinois State, Salerno worked his way up the television news ladder by reporting in Rockford, Peoria and Albany, New York before landing a job at WGN in Chicago, where he stayed for 11 years.
"He was so good at what he did. He didn't need papers in front of him. He was one of the best ad libbers in the business. One of the best reporters you will come across. You couldn't help but enjoy him," said WGN Reporter Marcella Raymond.
Salerno joined WBBM three years ago, followed shortly thereafter by his longtime co-anchor at WGN Roseanne Tellez.
"Everyone knows how funny he is. You see it on television every day. But the one thing that jumps out is, one day I got some bad family news and I shared it with him and I remember him being so upset for me. And I just felt at the time, 'Gosh, I didn't know he cared so much," said Tellez. "You couldn't ask for a better friend. I don't know how to go on without him."
It was Randy's first time snowmobiling. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Visitation from 1-9pm
Davenport Funeral Home
419 East Terra Cotta Avenue
Rt. 176, Crystal Lake, IL
Funeral @ 11am
Immanuel Lutheran Church
178 McHenry Ave.