Katherine Creag, the veteran WNBC/4 reporter, died late Wednesday night from an undisclosed "medical condition," the station said Thursday. Creag, a mother of three who lived in Manhattan, was 47.
Amy Morris, Ch. 4 vice president of news, said in a phone interview that her death was "medical- related" but that "we don't know anything else." Creag had been expected to begin her work day as usual at 3 a.m. At both Ch. 4 and WNYW/5, where she worked before joining in 2011, her stories typically aired on morning newscasts, notably Ch. 4's early morning show, "Today in New York," and the local news breaks on "Today."
"She worked the overnight shift, Monday through Friday, and then the 11 a.m. newscast," said Morris. "She worked in the middle of the night and then went home and took care of three lovely kids. It would be a hard shift for anyone but she had boundless energy and brought it every day, with a smile on her face. Even before that final 11 a.m. shot, at the end [of her workday] when you're pretty tired, she was always that same person with that same great attitude."
Creag — or "Kat" to colleagues and viewers — was one of the most prolific TV reporters on a particularly grueling beat — the streets of New York, where she reported from the scenes of countless fires, shootings, flood, water main breaks, and car crashes the past two decades. She'd arrive at the scene of an assault or robbery often with police just arriving too. Weather was a big part of her beat, or at least its many consequences — rain, sleet, snow, usually in the middle of the night, or in the spreading dawn.
Over the past year, Creag had also been stationed outside hospitals throughout the city and was a key member of Ch. 4's team reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. On Tuesday, Ch. 4 was awarded its first-ever Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for a "collection of breaking news, feature, and memorial stories that captured the rapid evolution of the novel coronavirus from public health threat to full-blown health crisis in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut," according to the citation.
Born in Manila, Creag grew up in Warsaw, Indiana — her mother, Cecilia, was originally from the Philippines — attended New York University, and later launched a career in TV news that like so many others was an itinerant one. After stops at TV stations in Syracuse, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas, she came to New York in the early aughts as a reporter for NY 1 (now Spectrum News NY 1), joining Ch. 5 in 2005 where she became a prominent fixture on "Good Day New York."
Morris called Creag "your definition of a kind person — someone who's caring. I keep describing her as warm and kind. There are people in the newsroom, fairly new, and they have stories about how welcoming she was and how she reached out to them and [they would] wonder when did she even have the time."
In an email sent early Thursday to the newsroom, Morris wrote, "For 10 years Kat was one of our cornerstones, always willing to help in any situation, whether it was a colleague in need or a shift that needed to be covered. She was thoughtful, funny and relentless. And even on the toughest days she was a bright light, quick with a kind word and a smile."
Creag is survived by her husband, William Gafner, and children Jackson, Gemma and Josephine.