A horrific photo of a Corvette which has crashed into the back of a large truck is often circulated with a story describing the image as a result of texting while driving. Is this story true or false?
The photo is real, but the story is not.
The photo dates from 2005 and does in fact show a terrible accident. The caption that claims this photo depicts a texting-while-driving accident was added several years later. Here are some variations of the texting story included with the photo, which resurfaces several times a year:
- They found his cell phone still in his hand – he was texting – his head was in the back seat. PLEASE don’t text while driving. Share this if your against Texting & Driving……..
- Do not play with the phone while driving! Harm to others! When rescue personnel found the deceased, the deceased had been decapitated, his hand still holding the phone. The original accident took place when the deceased was using a mobile phone.
- Saw this on Facebook today. An eye-opener for you sending out SMS while you are driving, because that was what this driver did. His mobile was still in his hand, but his head was in the backseat
- He was texting his wife, to say he was 5 minutes from home. PLEASE don’t text and drive! (Please share)
Several years after the accident, the photo surfaced with a humorous caption, “Physics: Resistance is Futile” which is shown below.
The Real Story
The accident was reported in the July 29, 2005 edition of the The Record, New Jersey’s second-largest daily newspaper. Thus, the accident occurred on July 28, 2005 and was reported as follows:
Friday, July 29, 2005
FRANKLIN LAKES – A Westchester County man died Thursday afternoon in a crash on Route 287.
Joseph Gianelli, 58 of Irvington, N.Y., was pronounced dead at the scene after his Chevrolet Corvette struck the rear of a tractor-trailer at about 1 p.m., near milepost 65, state police said.
The truck, operated by Clouis Oquinn Jr., 52, of Virginia, was parked on a northbound shoulder when the Corvette plowed into it. Oquinn was not injured, officials said.
The crash was under investigation Thursday evening.
There is no mention of text messaging in the news report, and texting while driving wasn’t a common problem in 2005, especially for older individuals. It would appear that the texting story was manufactured and this graphic photo was selected to be representative of the story. Damning proof that the captions for the story are not true are evidenced by those versions which claim the man’s head was found in the back seat of the Corvette. Corvettes, however, do not have a back seat.
The other photo
Another photo from this crash scene exists, but it hasn’t been as widely circulated. The angle of this photo is from the opposite side as the well-known photo.
The Google Trends chart below shows search history on this story. As you can see, it originally peaked in July 2012. It has had several peaks since then, including one in mid-2015.
It appears that this terrible crash photo has merely been used to demonstrate the dangers of texting while driving, and a fictional story was fabricated to accompany it.
The anti-texting-while-driving movement is certainly a worthy cause, but this photo is irrelevant to the conversation.
Updated July 9, 2015
Originally published August 2012