A few weeks ago, there was a tragic accident in Gainesville, Georgia that took the lives of Hannah Simmons, her daughter A’lannah, and her best friend Lauren Buteau. Simmons lost control of the car and the collision resulted in their deaths. It’s just awful news no matter how you look at it.
A lot of news stations, instead of focusing on their lives, tried to point to silver lining in all this. Almost literally so. A woman named Anisa Gannon was driving past the scene and took a picture of the accident with her phone. What she saw was a beam of light shining down on the scene with two brighter spots of light in the middle.
Or, as everyone in the world seems to be interpreting it, it was God shining down upon them and bringing two souls into Heaven.
It’s clearly bringing comfort to the families of the victims, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. I’m glad they have something to give them hope.
What’s frustrating is how the news media is playing along, pretending there’s no logical explanation for this. At the very least, they’re downplaying the other possibilities.
The Today Show‘s website, for example, didn’t even mention those options until the middle of the story:
Since she was going to be late, Gannon snapped a photo as proof she’d been stuck in a jam, Gannon’s aunt, Tara Noble, told TODAY.
The image appeared to show a beam of light ascending from the road to the sky. Within that beam, there seemed to be two small orbs.
“Oh, my gosh. It’s a pathway to heaven,” she recalled saying.
Though logic would attribute the light to a windshield glare or lens flare, Noble said that’s not the point.
Plenty of other news websites played right along, mentioning those rational explanations briefly before getting back to the quotations about how God was obviously sending a message. Some websites ignored those explanations entirely.At least People.com offered the photographer’s honest explanation: It was “clearly a glare off my window.” (This report cites the People article but doesn’t even mention the logical explanation.)
While we’re being honest, how come no one’s bringing up the issue of why there were only two small orbs of light going up to “Heaven”? There were three victims. Even by Christian standards, someone didn’t make it. (Some news reports say Simmons was a few months pregnant with another child, so wouldn’t the anti-abortion people expect four orbs?)
And if God was there to shine a light on the accident scene, couldn’t Jesus have taken the wheel a few seconds earlier and led everyone to safety…?
I’m not saying this to take away the little comfort this family has. If this picture brings them joy, let them have it. (It wouldn’t be the first time a stranger’s picture brought people comfort following a fatal accident.) But responsible journalists shouldn’t play along. They can mention that this picture is bringing their relatives joy, along with an explanation of why those people think it’s a sign from God, but they owe their readers a more honest reflection of what we’re looking at.
Anything less is irresponsible.
(Screenshot via Fox 13 News. Thanks to Jeff for the link)