Doug MacLean avoided Florida airport shooting by luck

Maureen Coulter comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 6, 2017

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Friday’s deadly airport shooting in Fort Lauderdale hit way too close to home for Islander Doug MacLean.

The Summerside native was on his way back to his current residence in Florida – just 30 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale. However, it was simply a matter of chance that the frequent flyer wasn’t headed for the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. 

“I usually go into Fort Lauderdale, but I didn’t (Friday),” MacLean told the Guardian Friday evening. “I feel very fortunate that I didn’t, very fortunate that I didn’t.” 

MacLean, a Canadian sportscaster with Rogers Media's Sportsnet, works three days a week in Toronto but lives in the United States. He was travelling back from Toronto when he landed at the Palm Beach International Airport around 12:30 p.m. ET.

Twenty-five minutes later and only 80 kilometres away, fear and panic unfolded as a gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport.

When it’s this close to home, it just hits you, MacLean said, adding that his phone started dinging with text messages shortly after landing from concerned fellow Islanders, Torontonians and Floridians.

“I started getting texts asking me if I was okay and I was thinking ‘what do you mean? I’m okay’,” said MacLean. “Then they said that people were killed in Fort Lauderdale and I thought maybe there was a plane crash and then it came back to me that it was a shooting.”

MacLean lives in Delray Beach and flies in and out every week from either Palm Beach International Airport or Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. The shooting occurred inside terminal two, an area MacLean knows all too well.  

“I’ve gone in and out of (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport) airport so many times. I just flew out of there Monday night.”

MacLean said people in the community are in shock. 

“I mean they don’t know what to think, it’s like anything, if an airport in a community gets hit with this, it obviously rattles people.” 

MacLean is scheduled to fly out of Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport Tuesday. 

He said he will be checking things out before he heads back to Canada next week. 

“It just catches you totally off-guard,” said MacLean. “I spend so much time there, it kind of throws you for a loop.”

maureen.coulter@tc.tc

Twitter.com/MaureenElizaC