The loss of a loved one is hard enough. Especially when that someone is your 30 year old son/brother with his whole life ahead of him, whose life was cut short because of an unfortunate and grisly car accident that resulted from a bee sting. Now imagine the EMT, who is supposed to be helping, taking pictures of the disfigured corpse for no official purpose, and sharing them with the community.
This actually occurred in West Virginia to the family of Jonathan Thomas, after Thomas’ horrendous and fatal crash described above. Thomas’ family claims that their privacy rights regarding the exploitation of deceased family members were violated by the EMT, Angel Willis, who took and disseminated the photos of Thomas’ severely injured body. The photos, which contained obvious identifying features of Thomas, were distributed to several of Angel’s co-workers and the community and were described in the lawsuit as “unsightly, intrusive and outside the bounds of decency.”
Ms. Willis, the EMT, has even had the nerve to do this before! The first time (that we know of) Willis and her husband both were accused of taking pictures of the body of Caleb King while transporting his body from the hospital to a funeral home. Charges were brought and then subsequently dropped for some reason, but the fact remains that people like Angel are out there doing this horrible thing!
While the law does not prohibit the photographing of corpses, the Thomas family hopes that their story can bolster support for a new bill that would penalize the photographing and dissemination of photos of corpses not used for official postmortem examinations or criminal justice purposes. The main point they wish to get across is that this kind of thing does happen, and when it does, real people are hurt, and hopefully their efforts would help stop people like Willis from taking any more morbid pictures of loved ones.