Early Friday morning, a Dodge Stratus with four passengers slammed into a utility pole in Uptown. The pole fell on the car, and a power transformer exploded, causing the car to burst into flames. Residents in the surrounding apartment buildings ran out to the rescue. They were able to pull two of the passengers out of the car. They used fire extinguishers from their buildings to battle the flames. The extinguishers weren’t very helpful.
In the end, the two men who were pulled from the car lived. The other two died.
Later in the day, a nearby resident, Jeff DePalma, posted a nearly 10-minute video of the car in flames to YouTube. The video was taken several minutes after the wreck and after DePalma had helped try to put out the flames. At the beginning of the video, two people are still in the car. One is still alive. You can’t hear him. You can only hear people talk about him. The video mainly just shows a car burning and several guys talking (sometimes cursing) about what happened and whether they’ll re-sign their leases. You can see the fire department arrive and figures running around. But that’s about it.
DePalma has come under some fire for posting this video. I think some of the comments may have been removed, but one that still remains calls DePalma a “freaking disgrace” for posting the video. Others thank him for it. A commenter is a brother to one of the guys who was pulled from the car. He wanted to thank those who saved his brother’s life. I believe he was able to get in touch with the appropriate people through the comments.
DePalma recently put up a note saying he’s only approving comments that offer condolences. He doesn’t feel his YouTube video is the place “to start a social media policy debate.”
But we could have the debate here. Was it appropriate for DePalma to post the video? On the one hand, it’s depicting the last few (terrible) minutes of two people’s lives. On the other, it’s news and it’s what happened.