I blogged awhile back on how I removed a link to Snopes.com from my blog because they had - at the time - posted horrific pictures of a deceased Nikki Catsouras at the site of the accident that killed her on October 31, 2006. I am happy to say that Snopes.com took them down.
However, they continue to circulate on the Internet and the fallout has been horrible for this teen's family, to the point that people with cruel and sick senses of humor have emailed the photos to her family, accompanied by message such as, "Whoo-hoo, Daddy, I'm still alive, from Dead Girl Walking!"
This morning in my daily newspaer read I learned that the California Highway Patrol is to blame. These photos were official investigative photos of the crash site. As the Orange County Register reports:
The California Highway Patrol has acknowledged that one of its employees is responsible for leaking onto the Internet graphic pictures of a Ladera Ranch teen's nearly decapitated body after she died in a high-speed car crash last fall.
The agency has written a letter of apology to the parents of Nicole "Nikki" Catsouras, 18, who died instantly after losing control of her father's Porsche on a toll road in Lake Forest on Oct. 31.
The problem? One of the investigators emailed the pictures to a friend of his who worked in CHP dispatch, and then that friend emailed to another group, and so on, and so on . . .
My question is for what reason did the investigator even think to email the pictures in the first place? Entertainment value? "Hey, Joe, get a load of these - gnarly, huh?" Educational? "Hey, show these to your kids - that'll keep them from speeding!" Or simply ego? "Dude, check out what I had to deal with today!"
So, the family is going to sue the CHP. Typically, I view a lot of lawsuits with some cynicism, but in this case I feel the family is justified. I don't know what cause of action they are pleading, but a case for negligent infliction of emotional distress is usually seen in cases against mortuaries fouling up arrangement or transportation of the remains of loved ones. I think this one tops even that.