Monday morning, 21 July 2008, bore all the markings of a fine summer day, dawning bright and clear. But the brightness swiftly gave way to unspeakable darkness with news that Steven Shoob was gone, struck and killed by a car on I-95 as he covered an earlier wreck near the Georgia/South Carolina state line.
The man some called the Phantom Producer, for his relentless pursuit of news while most of us slept, was gone.
"He was just sort of the cornerstone of local news coverage,'' said retired WTOC anchorman and news director Doug Weathers. "He was just terrific, there's no question about it. You could always rely on what Steven was reporting. He filled so many shoes. He did a great job.''
Doug Weathers hired Steven back in 1987 and admits he took some flak from others in station management at the time, who didn't really understand this tightly wound individual who truly never let up. His motor seemed set at top speed all the time. It was as if he was powerless to bridle his own frenetic energy.
Fortunately, Doug had autonomy and Steven stayed. And it didn't take long for any and all, including those who initially doubted, to realize this former star student at Savannah High and college roommate of a President's son (Chip Carter), was truly a unique force - a tenacious, hard working newsman like no other.
"Steven lived for breaking news,'' said WTOC news director Larry Silbermann. "I mean, that's what he did, that's what he was about.
"He always had the scanner by his side, he was competitive by nature. And, like any great journalist, he didn't want to miss any stories.''
In covering the stories of the night, he encountered those who would become his heroes... police, firefighters, EMT's and others on the frontlines of public safety. Arguably no one observed their actions and service more closely than Steven Shoob.
Over time, in a sense, he became one of them. His footage shot, he'd offer the light on his news camera to assist in a search, or to facilitate urgent efforts to free a victim from twisted wreckage.
Checking old tapes he shot, we heard him frequently shouting encouragement or useful information -- "He went that way!" -- to police in pursuit of a fleeing suspect.
The variety of uniforms and badges at his graveside service gave clear indication, respect was mutual.
Steven worked as what we call a one-man-band, shooting, writing and editing his stories, then producing the award winning newscast that contained them. He never slacked off on any aspect of his job over the span of two decades plus at WTOC.
Though Steven rarely interacted with many of his colleagues, purely because of his hours, news of his death impacted everyone at the station. And his loss goes far beyond the hole it leaves in THE News team.
"As great a journalist as he was, he was an even better person,'' said Silbermann. "The passion and compassion he showed on stories was the passion and compassion he showed as a person. There's no way you could ever fill that void that's going to be felt from this day forward in the WTOC news department.''
When Steven's parents advancing age brought infirmity, he moved in with them and devoted himself to them completely. He did so, remarkably, with similar or greater fervor than he exhibited in his work.
He put his own life on hold, without hesitation or reservation, seeing to every conceivable need for his parents.
When his mother died a few years back, Steven's focus grew even stronger for his father, Julius "Jay" Shoob, especially when the once brilliant businessman and Savannah City Councilman sadly began to slip into the cruel mental darkness of Alzheimer's.
Then, when Mr. Shoob died in early 2007, Steven became the patriarch of the family, a role he assumed responsibly and well.
But sadly, just as his life became once again his own, his time would be woefully short.
He poured himself into his work as always, stealing precious moments with his beloved grandchildren, his brother, other family and friends.
And then, in an instant, he was gone.
Through our tears, we all longed openly for a "do-over". Could we just roll back the clock a few seconds and change whatever it was that diverted Steven's attention for that one awful moment? Was it the lights of emergency vehicles that blurred his awareness of just where he stood? Could we quiet the call of his ever-present police radio that may have captured his attention? Or, could we, just ever so briefly, still the furious determination that was Steven Shoob, the anxious urge to deal with the situation at hand and get back to the station in time for his show?
We can never know what really happened. We are forced to face the devastating reality that the void he leaves is permanent.
He was our managing editor, Daybreak producer, anchor, videographer, reporter and Emmy award winner (WTOC's first). But, most of all, he was our friend, our dear, dear friend.
There's a quote that comes to mind from time to time when I think of extraordinary deeds or exemplary people - like Steven. It was first coined by the great American industrialist, Andrew Carnegie. When confronted with people of impeccable character or exemplary performance, he simply suggested:
"Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
Steven Shoob deserved our heartiest approbation and most lavish praise.
But, he'd have flat-out resisted any of it.