News

Woodstock woman, police decry ‘disgusting’ witnesses photographing crash scenes

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

An Oxford County woman who witnessed a serious motorcycle crash Sunday said she was “devastated” that witnesses took photos of the victim and the crash scene before emergency crews arrived.

Deb Blake, who witnessed the collision between a motorcycle and pickup truck Sunday shortly before 9 p.m., said several drivers stopped on the side of the road to take photos of the crash, which sent a 51-year-old man to hospital in critical condition.

“I was horrified,” she said. “I don’t know what humans are becoming nowadays.”

Woodstock police who investigated the crash said they strongly advise against anyone taking photos at crash sites or posting them on social sites.

Woodstock Const. Nikki VanLeeuwen called the actions taken by the would-be photographers on Sunday “disgusting behaviour from our community.

“It is disruptive to an investigation,” she said. “It is in very poor taste as far as people putting out information on social media before families are notified.”

Posting photos on social media has also changed the way police officers are being forced to do their job, according to one officer.

Woodstock Staff Sgt. Neil Butler said various news groups on social media regularly post photos of collision scenes or other emergencies.

“It happens all the time,” he said.

But posting photos can lead to a lot of additional distress for the family.

“In the past we’ve been able to conduct a thorough investigation and identify who the people were and notify next of kin properly and in person,” Butler said. “But now families are finding out their loved have either died or are seriously injured over Facebook or social media.”

Butler said when that happens they often receive frantic phone calls from next of kin wanting to know what has happened. He said that leads to “questions that we don’t have the answers to.”

“It causes our resources to be stretched even more, having to send someone immediately to next of kin to provide the support they need,” he said.

In the past, he said, they usually bring a family member, friend or victim service volunteer to help with the process of informing next of kin.

HRivers@postmedia.com