PIQUA — Sometimes Hollywood gets it wrong.
Contrary to a story reported on “Inside Edition,” an Ohio Highway State Patrol trooper did not actually drive a Michigan man 100 miles to be with his grieving family.
When Sgt. David Robison of the state patrol’s Piqua Post pulled Mark Ross over for speeding early Sunday, Sept. 25, he discovered that Ross had recently found out that his teenage sister had died in a car accident. Robison also discovered that the driver of the car, an acquaintance of Ross, was driving under suspension and that Ross had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Wayne County, Mich.
But instead of going to jail, Ross was stunned when Robison prayed with him and offered to help him get home to Michigan.
In a Facebook post which, as of Wednesday morning, had been shared more than 125,000 times, Ross wrote:
“At 3 am I got a phone call stating that my sister had been killed in a car accident … I haven’t slept and instantly got on the road. Of course we were speeding, trying to get back to Detroit. And we got pulled over in Ohio. I knew I was going to Jail due to a petty warrant. The police called Wayne county and they refused to come get me because of the distance. I explained to the officer that my sister had died and that I needed to get to my mother asap. I broke down crying and he saw the sincerity in my cry. He REACHES OVER AND BEGAN PRAYING OVER ME AND MY FAMILY. He offered to bring me 100 miles further to Detroit because they towed the vehicle. Everybody knows how much I dislike Cops but I am truly Greatful (sic) for this Guy. He gave me hope.”
That’s where the truth of the story ends, as Ross’ words were misinterpreted, according to Lt. Robert Sellers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“We offered to make arrangements to get him to Michigan. We were going to start relaying him north, if he could get someone coming south,” Sellers said. “But we weren’t able to assist him in getting to Michigan. Our plans fell through, and we parted ways with him that evening.”
Sellers said inadequate fact-checking caused the story to become so convoluted and sensational.
“No one fact-checked it, and then ‘Inside Edition’ came out with it, people picked it up from there and ran with it,” he said.
In the past couple of days, Sellers has fielded more than 100 calls seeking information from networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News.
“Every time I see a story pop up, I’ve been calling these news agencies back, really trying to get this corrected,” he said.
The sad story has a bittersweet ending: Ross did indeed make it home, where a candlelight vigil was held for his sister, Eliza Fletcher, and a Go Fund Me account for the young lady’s funeral and burial costs has exceeded its $10,000 goal in just one day.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341