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Invasion of Public Privacy

Two weeks ago my husband and I took five of our nieces and nephews for the weekend.

We went to out neighborhood community pool for the day for swimming and fun. All five (ages 4-12) have taken swimming lessons and the 4 year old had on arm floaties as an extra precaution.

We know the lifeguards well at our neighborhood pool and they asked who had taken swim lessons. They are vigilant, thank goodness.

While we were swimming, I turned my head to look at the other 3 children to my right. In a span of about five seconds, my 7 year old nephew to the left of me stepped into deeper water and got a big enough gulp of water to make him panic and begin to drown. Drowning is silent and quick. The lifeguard blew her whistle and was pulling him out within seconds. Afterwards when we pieced together what happened she said that the whole ordeal from me turning my head to her reaching him lasted 10-15 seconds. It can happen so quickly.

She pulled him out and he had lost consciousness for a few moments. She was about to start CPR. These moments seemed like an eternity for all of us and honestly, they were the worst and most agonizing moments of my life.

A gentleman who was there with his kids stepped over the lifeguard and the lifeless body of my nephew and began to point his camera and take pictures. I screamed at him to get out of the way and stop taking pictures. When he continued, my husband screamed at him several times and he finally walked away. This all happened during the precious moments that the lifeguard was assessing and attempting to revive him. Turns out she didn’t need to do CPR. He began breathing on his own very quickly.

I’m so very thankful that this story has a happy ending but was absolutely astonished and appalled at this man’s behavior.

I told the lifeguard afterwards what happened and she said she hadn’t known about any of that because she was so focused. She went up to the man and demanded his camera and deleted the pictures he took and asked him to leave. He did so without ever saying anything to us.

Again I’m so happy this story has a happy ending. As a side note, please be careful this summer in the pool. And please, before you make any comments about us not being careful or cautious, we absolutely were. Children drown with the most careful of parents nearby. 0625-15

Similar situation this past week when a 12 year old girl had her arm bitten off by a shark while swimming in the ocean at a beach in North Carolina.  Someone took photos of the scene on the beach afterwards as people worked on her and these were plastered all over the news.

Even though these incidents do occur in public, bystanders should show some discretion, restraint and empathy to not take photos.

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  • MPW1971 June 28, 2015, 7:50 pm

    Posting a photo or video of that on social media wasn’t going to earn the man any money; I am more suspicious of people filming and hoping to cash in on actual media paying for the video. What if it was the child of someone famous? What if this lead to a lawsuit? What if there was some value to it? It takes little effort to take the video, but there could be a big payoff here.
    It’s a sad story about our society that this is how people hope to make profit.

  • Shalamar June 29, 2015, 8:11 am

    A couple of months ago, my boss and I were walking back to our office from a meeting, and an old man collapsed in front of us. This happened right in front of my office building (which is important in a minute). While my boss did her best to make him comfortable, I phoned 911. The paramedics arrived quickly, but sadly, there was nothing they could do – he’d had a massive heart attack and was dead almost immediately.

    When we got back to the office, we found that we’d had an audience – a lot of our colleagues had seen what happened and wanted to hear all about it. Then, one of my co-workers – who’s a darling lady but extremely clueless – proudly showed me pictures that she’d taken of the whole scene. I honestly don’t know how she expected me to react – “Oh, cool! Send me those for my Facebook page!”?

  • ss June 29, 2015, 9:02 am

    I recall being on a stretcher in an ambulance while the paramedics were working on me and I looked up to see a woman had climbed up on the ambulance and was staring in the windows of the back doors, watching everything. She was a total stranger and I was furious and felt violated by her nosiness.

  • MsDani313 June 29, 2015, 10:40 am

    This is similar to people taking pictures at funerals. I have a few family members who take pictures at funerals and I have never understood why.

    • lkb June 30, 2015, 1:42 pm

      In some cases, photos or videos at a funeral are a cultural thing. In others, it can bring closure to close relatives who could not be in attendance. Years ago, a dear friend of ours was killed in a car accident. His wife was also in the accident and could not be at the funeral because she was still hospitalized and had to have surgery. So, mutual friends ran a video camera from the back so the widow could watch privately when she was able.

      (I can imagine similar scenarios — hospitalizations, relatives overseas (whether for military or other reasons, where photos and videos are appreciated.

  • daisy June 29, 2015, 1:12 pm

    I just watched a documentary about a man from Portugal with massive tumors on his face – his face was almost obscured but he could still see out of one eye. His sister accompanied him to the US for surgery and they were sightseeing around Chicago (I think it was). A woman walked by and snapped a photo on her phone – didn’t even stop walking. The sister yelled at her and she said she would delete it.

    Seriously, who takes photos of severely deformed people? What was she going to do with it?

  • Shalamar June 29, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Several years ago, my brother-in-law’s daughter from a previous marriage died tragically in a car accident. A few months later, we visited him and my sister-in-law. During the course of the visit, they showed us some photos they’d taken while on vacation. One of those photos was a bit odd – it was a tree with some bark scraped off. We asked “Er, what’s this?” Brother-in-law said “That’s the tree that Trisha’s car hit.”

    Oh. Oh boy. We had no idea what to say. I could only imagine the pain Trisha’s death had caused him, and I could understand wanting to visit the site where it had happened. I could even understand taking a photo. But to share that photo with us, among a bunch of holiday pics? (And it wasn’t like they’d accidentally left that photo in with the others. They made that pretty clear.)

    • AS June 30, 2015, 10:43 am

      @Shalamar – I can understand your shock. But for analogy, a lot of people go to war memorials or even battlefields of where their loved ones laid their lives. And they take pictures too. Some people just need to accept that someone they care about deeply is no more. Seeing the last place where the loved one lived, and incorporating it as a natural part of their lives does bring a sense that their life as well as the tragedy that claimed them early are not forgotten. I might do something like that too; and I understand that if you are not one of those people, you’ll find pictures such as the one you mentioned creepy.

      Though, that isn’t the same as taking photos of a stranger’s tragedy.

  • Angel July 5, 2015, 2:23 pm

    Yesterday I read on FB the story of a dead woman in an NYC subway. She was propped up on one of the seats and I guess the other passengers thought she was sleeping. Rather than help her people were taking photos of her with their cell phones. Until finally a man checked her pulse.

    To me that’s just wrong.