It was a big news story to start the New Year in Phoenix.
KNXV ABC 15 was first to report that two helicopters had collided into each other in mid-air and three victims were rushed to the hospital.
It was a great spot news story and ABC 15 was first with the news.
There was just one problem.
It wasn't two helicopters, it wasn't even one. It was a single car rollover accident.
It seems that ABC 15 had turned a one car accident into two choppers crashing in mid-air. Talk about blowing the story out of proportion.
The Pinal County Sheriffs Office had their phone ringing off the hook with viewers and other media wanting more info on the "chopper crash" being reported by ABC 15.
The Sheriff wasn't happy with the false report and sent out this press release chastising KNXV ABC 15 for their inaccurate reporting. And sadly as the Sheriff points out, it's not the first time ABC 15 was wrong. Ouch!
Here's the News Release:
On Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office received several 9-1-1 calls related to a single vehicle rollover accident at Fulcar Road and Hidden Valley Road. Four people were in the vehicle at the time of the crash and one was ejected. Medical personnel called for three separate air ambulances to take the injured to local hospitals.
In early December, ABC15 News reported that a Pinal County Walmart has "trespassed for life" a customer who was simply trying to "ad match." The false story grew internationally and quickly proved to be false. A simply check with the Sheriff's Office would have shown that the "ad match victim" portrayed by ABC15 News was in fact cited and released for one count of Disorderly Conduct and one count of Threatening and Intimidating.
Disappointingly, in less than 30 days, we find ABC15 News doing this again. In a rush to be first to report the story of a single vehicle rollover car accident and instead of providing their viewers accurate information they reported two helicopters had collided into each other and three victims were taken to the hospital.
PCSO Dispatch and others in our office began receiving calls from citizens and media outlets locally and nationally regarding the ABC15 News story. Other media outlets were very critical of ABC15 News for rushing to be first with the story, only to be inaccurate in their reporting.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office wants to again recognize and appreciate other members of the media who responsibly report the news by verifying important information before they report it.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said, "If there isn't enough drama for the evening news, don't worry ABC15 will make up more. Last month was the false story on the banned shopper at Walmart for price matching and now this false report of two helicopters crashing in Pinal County. It is irresponsible for a nationally affiliated news agency to not verify significant facts or even an event as significant as two helicopters crashing with the investigating law enforcement agency before reporting to the public."