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Man charged after filming teens in crashed car and not helping

Technically Incorrect: An Ohio man is accused of getting into a crashed car and using his phone only to film the injured (one of whom died). He then posted the video on Facebook.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


pelton.jpg
Paul Pelton, who filmed two injured teens. Lorain Police Department.

What would you do if you witnessed a crashed car?

Would you try to help the victims? Or would you merely take out your phone, enter the crashed car, film the injured and then put the video on Facebook?

The latter describes the accusations leveled at 41-year-old Paul Pelton of Lorain, Ohio.

As the Northeast Ohio Media Group reports, a Honda sedan was traveling quickly toward a level crossing. The driver lost control, and the car went off the road and crashed into a house. It caught fire, and local residents rushed to help.

Police say that Pelton took out his cell phone, began filming the teens as they lay injured, and then entered the crashed vehicle through the back door to film some more.

Lorain Police Det. Buddy Sivert told the Northeast Ohio Media Group: "He went right in after the crash, before the rescuers or police arrived."

19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

In a Facebook post, the police said: "While others were rendering aid to these boys, a male took the opportunity to video this horrible scene with his cell phone. In the video, the male makes comments that the boys were 'idiots,' and holds his cell phone so that he can film these two boys who were in medical crisis. The male then opens the back door of this vehicle and leans in to continue capturing video."

One of the teens, 17-year-old Cameron Friend, died of his injuries.

Police say that Pelton posted his video to Facebook under the name Paul Santucci. It has now been taken down. He also is said to have offered it to various news groups, in exchange for money.

The tricky part with respect to the law is that the police could only charge him with vehicle trespass. This is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Sivert told Reuters: "We searched to try to find anything to charge him with. It is not a crime to stick a camera where a kid is dying or try to sell it."

I have contacted the Lorain police to ask for the latest on this incident and will update, should I hear.

ABC 13 reported that Pelton said in a video of apology also posted to Facebook: "I just wanted to educate people to slow down. I didn't do that to have some type of gore video."

Of course not.

The Lorain Police, on the other hand, added this on Facebook: "The Lorain Police Department would like to remind citizens that they are allowed and encouraged to help one another in emergencies if they can do so safely, and that rendering aid or comfort to a dying young man and his severely injured friend is a commendable and kindly act. Persons are not, however, allowed to trespass into a person's vehicle criminally and without permission for the seemingly singular cause of filming, a young man's dying moments, for profit."