Behind the Lens: Life is Fragile

An ambulance returns to the accident scene on Highway 17, July 28, 2021 (Dan Gray/

As we go into another long weekend and we are bombarded by reminders to drive safe, slow down, don’t be distracted, what they are really trying to tell you is, life is fragile.

Rollover accident on Great Northern Road, April 23, 2021 (Dan Gray/

While accidents don’t happen, collisions do, and sometimes, with tragic consequences. Keeping in mind that life is fragile, I want to explain a little more, what people like myself do on days like this past Wednesday.

When these tragedies happen, we are asked to go and bring you information in an expedited manner, using all the skills and contacts we have. In the world of “instant information”, “facts” are often misguided and, at best, unverified. Eye-witness accounts are always the least factual, it’s been proven, but sometimes it is what we have to go with and sometimes they are indeed mistaken.

Alas, we are human, and we all make mistakes. We had received information, after the initial report, saying there were six cars instead of four.  Additionally, mistakes were made in naming the wrong code at a hospital. In a fast breaking story, despite multiple confirmations, mistakes still do happen and I will admit when we do make them.

What isn’t a mistake- When I hop onto social media and see people with no training nor ability to confirm anything, saying 12 people have been killed or other such far-fetched “facts”.  That is the bad side of social media, which does nothing but ratchet up everyone’s fear that one of their loved ones might have been involved.

A question I’ve been asked multiple times in multiple situations, why don’t you tell us everything you know all the time?

Multiple factors come into play including previous experience, training, ethics and severity of what I am seeing. Sometimes we get conflicting information from multiple reliable sources. Sometimes we know stuff the public should know, but want to wait for official word, but mostly, I want to protect my viewers and victims from seeing some of what I see.

Images from the Fire on Wellington Street East in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, January 30, 2021 – (Dan

No one needs to see a picture of a body in the middle of a roadway. No one needs to see the picture of firefighters pulling a lifeless body out of the burning building. No one needs to see parts of people laying in roadways, nor do they need that description.

No one needs to see pictures of victims of crime or collision, and although some people may think they want to see, trust me, you don’t.

I appreciate the trust people put into SaultOnline for our efforts in bringing up to date, information on rapidly evolving situations in our community. I appreciate all the phone calls, FB messages, story tips and e-mails I get. I appreciate when someone stops me to talk in a grocery store or on a walk.  Personally, I’d rather meet you that way then if you were part of the story I was covering.

This is more than a job to me; this is a passion, a passion of bringing stories of everyday life to people, because in the end, the truth of the matter is as we go into another long weekend-

Life is fragile.


  1. Thank you for writing this, Dan, I totally agree with you and it needed to be said. Too many people post on social media without considering the effects their comments have on others, especially in the case of tragic accidents.

  2. Well said, Dan.
    I recall being on the bus one day, turning from Great Northern onto Old Garden River. There was a crash at thatintersection, as as wepassed paramedics were loading a patient onto a stretcher.
    Another passenger, looking down at the scene as we passed, exclaimed “cool!”.
    I suggested that she could show more respect, to which her reply is unprintable.
    I’ve been at crash scenes and treated injured persons.
    Many of us are curious, and as a former first responder and current driving instructor, I do try and look for clues as to how the crash may have occurred. But it isn’t a spectator sport.

  3. Thank you Dan for owning your mistakes, rare to see in this day and age.
    Thank you for not showing the most tragic pictures.
    Our frontline rescue people, Paramedics, Police, Firefighters, Emergency Room Workers ect see and deal with this and it often leads to PTSD the general public has no need to see.
    To me it shows your respect for the the victims and their families not to publish.

  4. Love how you report on happenings to us Dan and I totally agree with your reasoning about why you may or may not report on certain things you see. You have a difficult job and I hope you have a way of working through the awful things you are forced to see in order to be an effective reporter to all of us. I totally believe that you are very passionate about your job/career and it is evidenced through your ability to go out and get the story no matter what time of the day or night. Thank you so much for that.

  5. Well written Dan . At least we have someone that looks after local news with integrity. Those posting on social media such as Facebook with this story , do it to be recognized, to make themselves look knowledgeable. What they’re really doing is looking for attention.

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