YOUR VIEW: KOMU8 Comeback Story Causes Facebook Outcry
SALISBURY - A couple weeks ago KOMU brought you the story of a high school basketball player that lead his team to a state title. It came close to a year after he survived a deadly car accident that killed the other driver. In this week's Your View, we examine the often sensitive process of finding the positive side of a tragedy.
Reporter Andrew Carter told the story of Salisbury basketball player Austin Francis, who was injured in a car crash more than nine months ago. Carter profiled Francis' path to recovery and later to a state championship.
But readers on our Facebook page saw the story differently, holding Francis responsible for the death of a loved one.
"I'm sorry, but I cannot be happy for that boy who killed one of my good friends," said reader Ashley Lowe.
"To add more insult to an already atrocious situation by doing a story on how much he has overcome - SICK," added Kay Allen.
KOMU 8 news Director Stacey Woelfel said the reaction didn't surprise him.
"There are people who won't like this because they feel like they are the victims, that the person who died here isn't coming back and there's nothing that can make up for that. So they're hurt, and they're particularly hurt by seeing the surviving person on television," said Woelfel.
Carter said he made sure to confirm there was no foul play involved, including alcohol consumption or reckless driving. Carter also spoke with the victim's step-brother, Derick Ferguson, who says Francis wasn't at fault.
Woelfel stands by Carter's reporting and emphasized the importance of sharing stories that can inspire and engage viewers.
"People are interested in stories like that because they put themselves in that situation - 'what would happen to me if I were like that? How would I deal with it and handle it?" said Woelfel.
Carter added, "Why not do a story about somebody who is trying to live their life to the fullest after such a tragic event and with a second chance?"