Pinal County Sheriff's Office Blasts ABC 15 for Making Up a Helicopter Crash

Categories: News
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The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is pissed off at the news crew at ABC 15.

For the second time in a matter of weeks, the Sheriff's Office has issued a public scolding of ABC 15's news-gathering techniques, which this time includes a story about a helicopter crash that didn't happen.

See also:
-Arizona Man Doesn't Have Lifetime Ban From Walmart for Price-Matching

Recall that a few weeks ago, ABC 15 ran a report of a man getting a lifetime ban from Walmart for "price matching."

The PCSO's media unit, namely spokesman Tim Gaffney, released a scathing statement essentially declaring the story a hoax and blasting ABC 15 for not waiting for the report from the Sheriff's Office, which described that the man had threatened Walmart employees with violence on several occasions.

However, ABC 15's story of a ban from Walmart for price-matching already had gone viral.

This time around, the PCSO is blasting ABC 15 for a story about two helicopters colliding in Pinal County, which didn't quite happen. Somehow, a one-car crash turned into a story about a helicopter collision, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The relevant parts of the statement from the PCSO:
On Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. the Pinal County Sheriff's Office received several 911 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 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 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 and being inaccurate in its 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.
Ouch.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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15 comments
PaulandoCounty
PaulandoCounty

A good PIO is there to facilitate the accurate reporting of news, not rip the media a new one when they botch an initial report and subsequently correct the error.  Where was "Gagme, The Critic" when local and national media reported that Gabby Giffords had been shot point blank and was dead.  Early reports often contain errors in a 24/7 news cycle. 

One has to wonder if the foment and hatred derives from the fact that Channel 15 has produced critical, award winning stories about the Babeu administration, including his activities as 'headmaster' of the defunct DeSisto school in Massachussets. More recently the covered his agency's failures in the Chris Hensley (hiker) search in the Superstitions. Yes, the one where PCSO claimed to have found the body after a private, volunteer search group had.

John Neibich
John Neibich

Hey, abc3 was first with the story. That it was completely wrong is immaterial.

Dustin Agahi
Dustin Agahi

And who the hell hired that damn helicopter pilot? Check your surroundings, he was probably even in the wrong air space!

Kirk Dooley
Kirk Dooley

When Channel 15 first went on the air in the late 70s, it had a news program that featured only good news stories (it was a 30-second spot) with a toy helicopter (when choppers were just starting out in Phoenix -- pioneered by Jerry Foster at Channel 10) that was called the Bluebird of Happy News. The station's slogan was, "May the Bluebird of Happy News fly over your home." It usually crapped over mine. ;)

Jim Saffen
Jim Saffen

I believe ABC15 over Pinal County on any topic

James Bound
James Bound

I almost read the article, then I saw Matthew Hendley wrote it.

Darin Spyderdog
Darin Spyderdog

yeah real media (like fox) lies on purpose! mistakes are for sissies!!!

Ed Carr
Ed Carr

Whether the TV news is accurate or not, why is it any business of the PCSO? There is no legal issue, right? Studboi should stick to fighting actual crime.

Anthony Scardaville
Anthony Scardaville

That's despicable, considering what happened a few years ago with the Channels 3 & 15 choppers!

Jesse Adams
Jesse Adams

No surprise, do you see the bullshit they post on Facebook?

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Ch. 12 has by far the most "professional" news team in the Valley. I just can't stand the others.

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