The home of Dr. Smith and family caught fire the afternoon of July 22.
In this video, footage of the fire and a member of the Coudersport Ambulance Department assaulting a CoudyNews reporter.
Let me say, in all the news I have covered, I have never hindered or got in the way of emergency personnel, and do not have plans to do so. In fact, any time I have gone to cover an accident scene or other such incident, I do everything I can to stay out of the way and not be noticed. There was no reason for what happened today.
When I neared the scene, and I was quite far away and across the road in a yard, a woman (seen in this video) began telling me I could not be there (despite the fact that there were several other individuals already standing in the grass far ahead of me). I told the woman I was with the media and asked several times where I could go to shoot video, asking her if I could join the other people down in the grass across the street.
She continued to deny me any reasonable access anywhere near the fire. Mind you, I was completely across the road and down approximately two homes from where the fire even was.
After I finally had enough of the woman telling me to leave, I turned the camera on to start filming what I could of the fire. Since the woman was telling me that I could not be there, I turned the camera in her direction. That is when she took a swipe and smacked my camera (which I believe is damaged since the video here is really shaky). The woman then threatened to ‘call the cops’.
She also falsely informed me that I did not have a right to videotape. We have every right to videotape – the Supreme Court has already ruled on that. This woman was acting as a public official in a public place and we have every legal right to videotape her and the fire.
I would also like to add, that shortly after the dispute with the woman, the Editor of a local newspaper was given full access to walk right up the road, much much closer than we ever were to the scene.