Spalding County Board of Commissioners has hired an outside firm to investigate why a firefighter used his personal cell phone to record video of a deadly car crash and the victim’s body.
The video was eventually sent to people outside the fire department, including the victim’s parent, Lucretia and Jeff Kempson, who filed a complaint with the county last week. The firefighter who took the video has not been identified but has been placed on investigatory suspension.
“Spalding County considers the taking of the video and sharing it in this circumstance to be, at minimum, a grave error in judgment,” said a statement released by county attorney Jim Fortune. “County officials want a full assessment of whether any laws, ordinances or policies may have been violated.”
Danya Kempson, 23, a mother of two, was killed when she lost control of her SUV on Highway 1941 on July 17.
“A firefighter who was part of one of the last groups of rescue units to arrive on scene used a personal cell phone to record a short video of the accident scene and of Ms. Kempson-Schacht’s body,” the statement said. “Later, that video was shared with other firefighters and ultimately with people outside of the department including Ms. Kempson-Schacht’s parents.”
“It’s hard enough losing a loved one or a child,” said Danya’s mother, Lucretia Kempson. “But then to have to see them after a wreck like this. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this kind of pain.”
The Kempsons received a text message containing the graphic video two months after the crash.
“At the moment we heard about this, the anger was just, there’s no way this could be,” Jeff Kempson said. “I was praying when I looked at that video it wasn’t her.”
The images are painful enough, but the Kempsons said the audio is agonizing, too, since they say it reveals a lack of concern and urgency by first responders.
“They didn’t care for my daughter,” Lucretia Kempson said. “I have a hard time that she wasn’t treated with love.”
“The video was recorded after the initial responders had determined that Ms. Kempson-Schacht had been killed on impact and there was nothing that could be done for her,” the county statement said. “Spalding County considers the taking of the video and sharing it in this circumstance to be, at minimum, a grave error in judgment.”
“A report of the investigation should be ready for presentation to the Board at a special called meeting scheduled for Monday, October 25, 2010,” said the statement. “The report will be presented in closed session, but information about the results of the investigation is planned to be released on Tuesday.”
The Kempsons want to push to make personal videos by first reponders illegal.
“I feel like they need to come in, do their job, protect the people that are there, do anything they can to help them and not videotape, not do anything of this nature to disrespect that person, whether they’re deceased or not,” said Jeff Kempson.