UPDATE from The Blaze:
The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported the tear-jerking story that quickly went viral: a man who played Santa Claus granted the final wish of a terminally ill boy who later died in his arms. But the News Sentinel now says they cannot confirm the story was accurate, and although they have attempted to verify key details of the man’s account, they have been unable to do so…
But recently, the paper issued a troubling update:
The update read, “The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate.” It continued, “Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.”
CNN also contacted all the major hospitals in the Knoxville area that treat children, and found no hospital that could verify the story. And although he did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, Schmitt-Matzen did tell the Washington Post he was standing by his original story.
Now, if the Santa made the whole thing up, that’s really, really horrible. But, one news station has said they did confirm the details of the account but are keeping it quiet to respect the privacy of the parents:
WBIR 10News has independently verified several critical details of this story, but has agreed not to publish those for the sake of privacy. Schmitt-Matzen maintains his desire to protect all names involved.
In addition, Schmitt-Matzen’s wife, Sharon, of 38 years spoke with 10News on Wednesday night and also helped fill in details of her husband’s story and his response to what happened that day in what she said was mid-October. That differs from Schmitt-Matzen’s original account of the timeline, in which he said the death happened “about six weeks ago.” Schmitt-Matzen told 10News he had the time wrong and that his wife remembers those things better than he does.
“I know how he reacted that next morning, and this is something that weighed so heavy on him,” Sharon Schmitt-Matzen said of her husband’s experience. “I just know that he just needed time by himself to accept what happened because he obviously wasn’t prepared for a child to die in his arms.”
This is so heartbreaking!! [Read more…]