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Off by one word



An article in last week’s Star, written on an event that occurred at deadline, accurately reported the event on which we had limited information available — except for one word.

“Vandalism” was the wrong choice in the headline of “Daylight vandalism” over the photo caption that relayed our reporter’s eyewitness account of a pickup truck crashing through the fence at the Lake Roosevelt High School athletic field, then spinning in circles, throwing up turf and damaging the grounds before taking off up the road and getting stopped by a police officer.

“Damage” would have been a more accurate choice, because as it turns out, the intention that “vandalism” implies was wrong, based on a faulty assumption. The driver was experiencing severe heart problems, we could only learn later.

When they go off during a heart attack, surgically implanted defibrilators deliver a huge jolt, not a mild shock. The jolt can cause severe spasms, severe enough to cause a complete lack of control, whether while driving or even just sitting.

It’s a lucky thing that the driver suffering the problem turned the vehicle back out onto the roadway, rather than accidentally continuing up the field, where children were playing, or veering off into the parking lot, where people were enjoying a tailgate barbecue while watching a tennis match that pleasant Tuesday evening.

The reporter, who did not write the headline, came back to the newspaper after having been at the tennis match, with photos and what information was known at the time. Police reports can take days to obtain, and we had no way of knowing that there was a medical problem involved, or even who had been driving.

Nevertheless, using a word that implied motive before we actually knew it was the wrong choice. We changed it in the online edition after the driver’s wife called to inform us of the problem a day after the print edition had come out.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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