An Ohio man was charged with trespassing Wednesday after police said he filmed the aftermath of a deadly car crash and attempted to sell the footage to local news stations.
Paul Pelton, 41, was allegedly one of the first people to arrive at the scene of a car accident in the city of Lorain early Monday morning, The Chronicle-Telegram reported. One teenage boy was killed in the crash, while two others were seriously injured.
Paul Pelton, 41, is accused of filming a car crash.
Pelton opened a back door of the car to film the teenagers inside without trying to help them, police said.
“While others were rendering aid to these boys, a male took the opportunity to video this horrible scene with his cell phone,” Sgt. Buddy Silver said in a press release. “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.”
Witnesses said the man who took the video did not attempt to help the teenagers, according to news station WOIO.
Pelton was arrested Wednesday and charged with vehicle trespass, defined as “knowingly entering into… a motor vehicle without consent of the owner/driver or person authorized to give consent,” according to local news station WKYC.
The police department later released a comment encouraging people to help each other and condemning the suspect's actions:
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.
“We searched to try to find anything to charge him with,” Detective Buddy Sivert told Reuters. “It is not a crime to stick a camera where a kid is dying or try to sell it.”
One person who tried to help the victims was Denise White, who told WOIO she felt taking the video was “disgusting.”
"To take that video and put it on Facebook, it just shows you have no principles,” she said.
Pelton posted a subsequent Facebook video in which he apologized for the first video, according to WOIO. “I never intended it to be a video that came across as a gore video," said Pelton in the video. "I wanted to put the video out there so other kids could see it and learn from the mistake of speeding and driving recklessly."
Alcohol and drugs are not believed to have been factors in the accident, in which the 1999 Honda hit a pole and a parked car before crashing into a house.