Tyler doctor explains mixed emotions about famous Columbia photo

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A famous photo that captured the space shuttle Columbia tragedy was taken by a doctor in Tyler 11 years ago. Scott Lieberman says he never imagined he would be calling KLTV to explain what he had just witnessed. On the 11 year anniversary he's explaining his mixed emotions about capturing the shuttle.

"11 years ago much like today was a Saturday morning although unlike today it was a clear blue sky," Lieberman said. "We knew the space shuttle was going to be re-entering over East Texas and I thought this was going to be a great opportunity to get some photographs."

Lieberman says quickly those photographs turned into much more than something he would hang on his wall.

"We were on the phone with KLTV very quickly, so I was already reporting to them that we had seen the vehicle had broken up on re-entry," Lieberman said. "And we were reporting that a head of NASA officially reporting it."

Lieberman says he continued to check his camera to make sure what he saw and heard was real.

"The realization that what we had seen was a breakup of the vehicle was absolutely heart wrenching," Lieberman said.

As he looks at his famous photos 11 years later, he has mixed emotions.

"The picture itself obviously is a tragedy. I'm still sorry I ever took the photo from the prospective that it happened," Lieberman said.  "What I don't regret is that it's lead me to meet an awful lot of people that I wouldn't have otherwise met. It allowed me to get opportunities in photography that I wouldn't have had."

Columbia was the oldest space shuttle in NASA's fleet, returning from its 28th mission, and now it will forever be part of East Texas history and many people's lives.

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