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Three weeks after its initial report, KMGH-TV/Denver 7 issued a correction and an apology today (Friday) for claiming a Northglenn Ambulance crew ignored a request to help a child struck by a car. The correction is somewhat narrow in focus, but it does address the basic point of the story. It makes clear the ambulance crew did not ignore the citizen who came up to the ambulance in traffic to say there was an injured child around the corner.
News director Holly Gauntt writes that the following correction and apology will appear on the air at 6:00 p.m. today. It is also posted online and on Facebook. Here’s the statement from the TV station:
Earlier this month KMGH posted a story about an ambulance that was waived down by a man who had just witnessed a young boy hit by a car. The witness asked a crew from Northglenn Ambulance to pull around the corner to help the boy. When the crew did not respond by putting on lights and sirens and then didn’t turn into the intersection, the man started recording them.
The video clearly shows the ambulance sitting in traffic, then driving through the intersection, away from the accident, when the light turns green.
While our story accurately reflected the events, the banner atop the story was inaccurate. The banner stated: “Paramedics Ignore Request To Help Injured Boy.” While it is true that the crew did not turn on lights and sirens and didn’t go directly to the scene of the accident, the crew did call the accident into dispatch so another crew could assist the boy. It was incorrect for us to state that the initial crew ignored the request for assistance. We have removed the banner from the web story.
We apologize for the error.
As I pointed out both publicly on STATter911 and social media, and privately to the TV station’s management, the banner was only part of the problem. There was also the lead-in to Lance Hernandez’s report read by anchors Anne Trujillo and Shannon Ogden that said:
Shannon Ogden: “Well there’s an ambulance in traffic 100 yards away but paramedics, won’t help you.”
AnneTrujillo: “That’s exactly what happened last night at Leetsfield and Quebec in Denver.”
For both journalists and the public, the larger issue in this report is a reminder that what you see in a video isn’t always the whole truth. More details (AKA “facts”) are needed to bring context. This is good evidence that the view of a single eyewitness who shot the video–but refused to be publicly identified–was not enough to properly provide that context and to explain what really happened. My view, admittedly in hindsight, is the TV station should have required more from its reporter before airing this story. For the rest of us, with the amount of video passing before our eyeballs each day–including on this website–this is an important reminder of the danger when we jump to conclusions.