The job that had Jim Lovell on the early train to Manhattan was to bring the quintessential postcard scene of New York at the holidays — the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — to the rest of the country.
He was an audio technician, headed to help set up for the television broadcast of the tree lighting this week, when his commuter train jumped the tracks at a perilous bend in the Bronx in the first light of Sunday morning, killing him and three other passengers.
“Jim was a friendly and welcome presence around here,” Matt Lauer said Monday on TODAY. “He was also an enormously talented guy who always did his job with grace, even under extreme pressure.”
His son, Finn, put it more intimately in a post late Sunday on Instagram: “It’s safe to say he molded me into the man I am today,” he wrote. “This feels like an awful nightmare that I can’t wake up from. Rest easy dad. I love you.”
Lovell, 58, of the Hudson River town of Cold Spring, was remembered for a quick smile and a ready hello. He worked on some of the high-profile concerts staged by TODAY on Rockefeller Plaza, and frequently worked on other NBC programs.
The other victims of the crash were identified as Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y.; James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of the New York borough of Queens.