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Newsroom's Statement on Initial Information Regarding Fatal Highway 99 Accident

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Updated: 7/25/2013 3:17 pm

We would like to clarify and apologize for initial information we reported in regards to the fatal traffic accident on Highway 99 near Los Molinos yesterday.

When our reporters arrived at the scene, they spoke to responding CHP officers. While gathering information, one of the responding officers indicated to our reporters the child was 18 months old. It was later confirmed he was a 5-year-old boy. 

This morning, we made contact with two officers from the CHP's Northern Division Office in Red Bluff. We first spoke with Sgt. Jeff Ross, who arrived after the accident which occurred just before 1:30 p.m. Sgt. Ross told Action News Now he also heard initial information the child was 18-months-old, but indicated the initial assessment of the victim's age could have been inaccurate for a number of reasons. Ross stated he found no safety seat at the scene of the accident.

We then spoke with CHP officer James Keffer, the lead investigating officer with 12 years of experience. Keffer told Action News Now he had no knowledge of where the initially reported age came from, and was "shocked" to learn about that information when we reported it. Officer Keffer further confirmed the 5-year-old boy was wearing a seat belt, but was not in a car safety seat required by law for his physical stature. Keefer also confirmed no safety seat was found at the scene of the accident.

This statement is not an invitation for criticism of the mother who was critically injured in the accident which was not her fault. The pain of this horrific tragedy is enough, so we ask for everyone to be respectful to the family in this time of grieving.

Action News Now would like to take this opportunity to apologize for reporting the age of the young boy when we should have waited for solid confirmation by authorities. 

As we discussed what happened yesterday in the newsroom this morning, we reminded ourselves about how careful we need to be when it comes to initial information during breaking news events. It's more important to report what we really know at the time and avoid the urge to report initial, though unconfirmed eyewitness accounts during breaking news situations. 

As our station moves forward, we can never forget how much our viewers depend on us for solid, accurate information.  We thank you all for being wonderful and thoughtful viewers. 

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