When Ohio resident Paul Pelton came upon a wrecked 1999 Honda sedan moments after it had hit a pole, SUV and a tree before crashing into a house, his first instinct was to pull out his cell phone and record the gruesome scene – despite the fact that passengers of the crashed car were still inside the destroyed vehicle, struggling for their lives.
The 41-year-old man entered the car to film the interior and to get a better shot of injured driver Zachary Goodin and his passenger Cameron Friend both 17 according to police. Pelton even called the boys “stupid” on camera while not making a single effort to lend them a helping hand.
The vehicle soon caught fire and by the time area residents rushed toward the scene, Friend was already unconscious. He later died at the hospital.
As if Pelton's actions – or total lack thereof – hadn’t already cost a human life, he later tried to sell the disturbing video to two different news channels. He was hoping to make some money off of the footage, but all his efforts were in vain – and eventually led to his arrest.
After failing to peddle the video, Pelton proceeded to share it on Facebook. A day later, officers arrested him on criminal charges of vehicle trespass for opening a door and leaning into the wrecked vehicle.
“We searched to try to find anything to charge him with,” Lorain Police Detective Buddy Sivert told Reuters, clarifying that Pelton was charged for entering a crime scene and not for filming the scene or trying to sell the footage. “It is not a crime to stick a camera where a kid is dying or try to sell it.”
Meanwhile, Pelton has a completely different narrative.
After local uproar over his footage, he reportedly published an apology video on Facebook, saying that he never intended to profit off the video and that he had only asked for a donation to charity.
“I want to offer a public apology to the families of the kids that got injured or deceased in the car accident,” Pelton said. “I never intended it to be a video that came across as a gore video. I wanted to put the video out there so other kids could see it and learn from the mistake of speeding and driving recklessly.”
However, since he didn’t make any move to help the victims or make a public service announcement, his motives are pretty clear.
“In this day and age, everybody’s videotaping everything,” said Sgt. Buddy Sivert. “There’s a place and time to capture things on video … but this guy went into the crime scene for his own purposes.”