Georgia First Responder Suspended for Videotaping Crash Victim's Body


Spalding County officials have scheduled a special meeting to release findings of their investigation into why a county firefighter took video of a fatal car accident and posted it on the Internet.

In a Wednesday night news release, county officials announced the suspension of the unidentified firefighter and scheduled a special meeting for Monday, October 25 to issue a report on the incident.

The investigation started after Jeff and Lucretia Kempson filed a complaint.

"He took a video of my daughter lying deceased in that vehicle," said Jeff Kempson.

Their daughter, 23-year-old Dayna Kempson-Schacht, a mother of two, died in a one-car crash on July 17. She ran off Highway 19-41 and crashed into a tree.

Kempson's parents said a Spalding County firefighter pulled out his personal cell phone and videotaped Kempson-Schacht's lifeless body. They said he then sent that video to other people and posted it on the Internet.

"They invaded her privacy. That was a private scene not for anyone or us to have to see that," said Lucretia Kempson.

Jeff Kempson said he received the video from his ex-brother-in-law.

"Who I hadn't seen him in 10 or 12 years, it came to him," said Kempson.

Kempson would not show CBS Atlanta reporter Tony McNary the video, but he played the audio for us. You can hear the firefighters talking.

"Smells like she's been drinking. There is a piece of skull right there on the console," one firefighter stated.

"I was wondering what that smell was. Hold that down for me. Oh, my God!" stated another firefighter.

Kempson described what he saw on the video.

"He moves his flashlight from the console to her upper torso and her head, and that's when you see her lying there. I mean it took the whole side of her head off," said Kempson.

That's not the image Kempson wanted of his daughter. He definitely didn't want it passed around for anyone to see.

"I'm upset that they've disrespected my baby the way they've done," said Lucretia Kempson.

The Kempsons want to know whats being done about it, but they said fire officials are not talking.

So CBS Atlanta went to interim chief Kenny West on Monday, and asked the tough questions.

"Have you seen the video?" asked McNary.

"No," replied West.

"Was that protocol when he (the firefighter) did that?" McNary asked.

"No," stated West.

"Is this a veteran firefighter or someone new?" asked McNary

"He probably has eight or nine years or something like that," answered West.

West said the county does not condone that type of behavior.

West said he is talking to all firefighters who responded to the accident and those who may have knowledge of the video.

They are not releasing the firefighter's name at this time.

On Wednesday, the following release about the incident was issued by the Spalding County government:

"On July 17, 2010, Dayna Kempson-Schacht was killed in a tragic accident in Spalding County. Several agencies responded to the accident, including the Georgia State Patrol, the Spalding County Sheriff's Office, Emergency Medical Services and the Spalding County Fire Department.

A firefighter who was part of one of the last groups of rescue units to arrive on scene used a personal cell phone to record a short video of the accident scene and of Kempson-Schacht's body. The video was recorded after the initial responders had determined she had been killed on impact and there was nothing that could be done for her.

Later, that video was shared with other firefighters and ultimately with people outside of the department including Kempson-Schacht's parents.

Spalding County considers the taking of the video and sharing it in this circumstance to be, at minimum, a grave error in judgment. County officials want a full assessment of whether any laws, ordinances or policies may have been violated.

The person who recorded the video has been placed on investigatory suspension and the Board of Commissioners has hired an outside firm to conduct a full investigation into the incident.

After this evaluation is completed the board and county administration will take appropriate action.

A report of the investigation should be ready for presentation to the board at a special called meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, 2010. The report will be presented in closed-session, but information about the results of the investigation is planned to be released on Tuesday."

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