So, Who Hit Whom?

In today’s Progress, John Yellig writes:

An Albemarle County police cruiser collided Tuesday with a Hyundai Elantra and a Honda Civic at the intersection of East Rio Road and Hillsdale Drive.


When the cruiser, driven by a female officer, turned left from Rio to head south on Hillsdale, it struck the eastbound Elantra, said Mary Shifflett and Lewalta Haney, both of Louisa.

After striking the Elantra, witnesses said, the cruiser hit the Civic, which was waiting at the Hillsdale stoplight to turn west onto Rio Road. Damage there appeared minor.


The police officer was conscious after the accident, as witnesses said they saw her make a phone call immediately afterward. She was loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher and driven away to an unnamed hospital.

Police on the scene declined to speak to the press.

(Emphasis mine.)

OK, so a police car accidentally collided with two cars, and then the police wouldn’t talk to the media. That’s understandable, though — they hadn’t had a chance to talk with their just-injured officer, and no doubt an investigation will be in order. The really unfortunate bit is the side story of the girl who was hit — she got her license mere days previously, her car just one day previously, she was apparently doing nothing wrong and then, bam, she’s in an accident.

So, it’s a straightforward story — police officer’s car strikes two citizens’ cars.

Then we have WINA’s story today:

An Albemarle Officer’s Vehicle is Struck on East Rio

An Albemarle police officer is recuperating from a Tuesday night accident. Officer Caroline Morris was attempted to pull over a motorist for a traffic violation at the intersection of East Rio Road and Hillsdale Drive. While she was making a left hand turn, her vehicle was struck by a 1994 Hyundai. The Hyundai was driven by a 17-year-old Charlottesville motorist. This incident also involved a third vehicle, which was driven by a Fluvanna County resident. Officer Morris was transported to the University of Virginia Hospital. Her injuries were NOT life-threatening.

Again, emphasis mine.

It’s rare that two local media outlets run conflicting stories — something’s wrong here. Are the police now contradicting the witnesses? Or has WINA gotten the story wrong? There’s a story to this story — I’m just not sure what it is.

5 thoughts on “So, Who Hit Whom?”

  1. Simple. The Progress reporter presumably went to the scene and interviewed people, whereas the WINA account is virtually verbatim what Albemarle county sent out earlier today in the form of a press release.

  2. Two points, although admittedly both could fall under the category of nit-picking: (1) I think it is unfair to assume WINA got the story wrong. The Daily Progress is no better than any of the other media outlets we have in Charlottesville; it’s had its fair share of factual errors before. I’ve heard many people give the paper the nickname “the Daily Regress.” (2) That leads to my second point…I have a hard time with at least one line in the article (if not more). Mr. Yellig writes, “The police officer was conscious after the accident, as witnesses said they saw her make a phone call immediately afterward.” This implies the determination of the officer’s consciousness comes from Yellig based on his conversations with witnesses. This was likely unintentional. Nevertheless, Yellig should report what he’s told and not interpret it. I’m sure he asked the witnesses if they could tell if the officer was conscious, and it’s likely they said what Yellig noted. Therefore, he should have written something along the lines of, “Witnesses said they believed the officer was conscious after the accident because they saw her make a phone call immediately afterward.” If my unconfirmed scenario were true, then this sentence version would be the more transparent of the two in terms of sources and what they said.

  3. I assume fault on the part of WINA not based on any sort of qualitative judgement of the radio station, but, rather, because the Progress has comments from eyewitnesses, whereas WINA doesn’t appear to have used any such sources. I assume that what “duck123” writes above is probably the case — WINA used a police press release while John Yellig (apparently) went out and talked to some people. If the Progress has more information than WINA, and the two sources’ stories conflict, I figure the Progress is more likely to be right.

  4. Hey, when is C’ville going to get some real traffic maniac news like my old hometown of Tucson, which just had a kid steal a huge earthmover and rampage through the city before being shot by police when he tried to run them over. (Or did he?)

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