Nightly News   |  July 19, 2013

NTSB head on leading the ‘CSI’s of transportation’

Deborah Hersman, who runs the National Transportation Safety Board, leads the agency that travels the world investigating horrific accidents. NBC’s Tom Costello spoke with Hersman this week in Washington about her role in the office and at home, as a mother of three.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> two weeks since the crash of asiana flight 214 in san francisco . during this continuing investigation, a lot of our viewers have gotten their first good glimpse of the current share of the national transportation safety board , she is the daughter of an air force general and she now leads an agency that travels the world investigating such accidents. and in her job, when something happens, you go and you must leave your life on hold. nbc's tom costello caught up with her this week in washington .

>> she is the public face of an agency often associated with tragedy.

>> our team has walked the full wreckage path.

>> within hours of asiana 214's crash landing , ntsb investigators were on the runway in san francisco . the evidence, said chairman debra herzman suggested that the pilots had come in too low and too slow.

>> i will tell you the speed was significantly below 137 knots.

>> we first met hersman in 2005 , just appointed to the ntsb by president bush , passionate about clirld's car seats.

>> car seats are not made for children.

>> she earned a reputation as a quick study who asks tough questions.

>> i think this crew went from clasency to catastrophe in 30 seconds.

>> asiana i think is closing it down today.

>> chairman since 2009 , hersman leads some of the best people in the world at investigating everything from plane crashes to battery fires, to train derailments. at ntsb headquarters she took us behind the scenes into the investigators' labs.

>> this is real forensics here.

>> it really is these guys are the csis of transportation.

>> but at home in suburban washington -- chairman hersman becomes debby do husband neal and mom to three boys who say the nation's chief safety officer makes them live what she preaches.

>> like all my friends were like out of jerseys and stuff and i was still 12 and i was in a booster seat.

>> i know she's doing it for me because she loves me, she's my mom.

>> being a mom was never far from the mind as she met with the parents of the teenagers who died at asiana flight 214 .

>> ky hear the word mama and if i can reach out to shake their hand and tell them that i'm sorry, i say to them, i'm mama, too.

>> a dedication to family and safety, tom costello, nbc news, washington .