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Video: Parents heartbroken over accident scene video

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    >>> is accused of taking and sharing cell phone video at a deadly car crash . we're going to talk to the victim's parents in just a moment. but first, here's our report from nbc 's ron moss .

    >> reporter: the spot where dana died is today a peaceful memorial, across the road from a field of flowers in her favorite color. when her parents say what has shattered them even more than losing their daughter was getting a cell phone video of her body taken just moments after the suv she was driving crossed the median, flipped multiple times and slammed into several trees. the video, too graphic to show was allegedly shot by a firefighter on the scene and later shared around the station house and eventually sent to the parents.

    >> this person has no compassion. to have taken a video like that of our daughter.

    >> reporter: two voices can be heard describing body parts .

    >> oh, my god.

    >> i can see them going to her and seeing if she was still breathing . they were worried about what was on the console and i was just very upset and hurt that somebody could do this and disrespect my daughter in this way.

    >> reporter: county officials declined to go on camera, but the fire chief tells nbc news he's still trying to gather all the facts and that shooting video like this is not condoned and is not normal procedure.

    >> reporter: pictures of a california teen who died in car crash were put on the internet. for "today," ron mott, nbc news.

    >> good morning to both of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> jeff , how did you first hear about this video?

    >> an ex-brother-in-law who i hadn't seen in quite some time who had received that video from someone that he knew. once he received the video and the person told him, you know, this is the accident of the young lady on the highway, he knew immediately then that it was probably my daughter. he then contacted me and said, look, i've got a video here and i'm so ashamed, but i have to tell you, it's of your daughter and of course i had to know so he sent the video to me. and i viewed the video and you know, without a doubt, it was our daughter dana and it was just too terrible to put into words really.

    >> lucretia , what was worse, seeing the video or also hearing what was being said as the video was being recorded?

    >> i don't know which one is worse. seeing the video of my daughter, it hurts because i didn't want to see her that way. but hearing them with no urgeyou arurgen cy to see if she was okay really upset us.

    >> jeff , you said that there was a casual tone with regard to your daughter?

    >> if you listen to the video, it sounds like a casual conversation. they're discussing parts of the accident, but you could -- you just don't hear them say let's get in there and see if she's okay, let's reach in and check for a pulse, let's get this thing open and get her out of here. it was just more of a conversation of what the scene described. and it would be my contention that these guys when they come on the scene, they really need to be focused on the victim and who's hurt and not, you know, commenting on things that are happening at the time. and it just sounded like to me that these guys were just having a conversation, just like you and i are having right now and there was just no urgency there to even check her to see if she was still alive. so that's very upsetting and that disturbs us very much.

    >> the spaulding county fire department has apologized but it's been more than a month since you heard about the video and the sheriff's department investigator says they're not sure if there are any laws broken. if there are no laws broken by what has happened to your family, do you want a law written so that this cannot happen again?

    >> oh, absolutely. it is so easy for this to happen to anybody. any responder on any scene at any time who's allowed to have his cell phone could take these videos. i think they should not even be allowed to have cell phones when they're out on these calls. they have their radios, they can communicate with each other, what reason would they have to have an actual cell phone ? i would love to see a law passed or something enacted through legislation that they're not allowed to do this. if they're not given the opportunity, then we don't have to worry about it ever happening again.

    >> the impact on your family has been pretty extensive. lucretia , i understand that you have had trouble sleeping ever since you have seen this video. how are you and your family coping with this added trauma?

    >> through god and the strength of each other. it's hard closing your eyes because when you close your eyes , that's what you see, is dana laying in her car and not being cared for the way she deserved. so we're just getting through it with each other.

    >> all right. the worst part is this lack of compassion that you are feeling and i hope that you begin to feel the compassion of everyone listening now to your story. jeff and lucretia , thank you very much and we wish you all the best.

    >> thank you.

TODAY contributor
updated 10/19/2010 10:27:51 AM ET 2010-10-19T14:27:51

Police did not tell Jeff and Lucretia Kempson much about the death of their 23-year-old daughter this summer — only that she apparently lost control of her car on a rural Georgia road and slammed violently into a grove of trees.

They did not tell the parents that the injuries to their daughter were so severe that the scene on the side of the highway upset even responding firefighters. But the Kempsons did find out what happened to Dayna Kempson-Schacht, in a particularly awful way — from a cell phone video one of the firefighters took of the wreckage and of the mother of two’s mangled body.

"Oh, my God," one firefighter can be heard saying on the video, which found its way from the firehouse to a bar, and ultimately to Jeff Kempson.

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“I viewed the video and, without a doubt, it was our daughter Dayna,” Jeff Kempson told TODAY’s Ann Curry on Tuesday. “It was too terrible to put in words, really.”

‘No urgency’
The sight of their daughter's body, in the state that it was, understandably disturbed the Kempsons greatly. But as upset as they are that the video was taken and passed around to people who had no business seeing it, they are even angrier that the firefighters did not appear to be trying to help their daughter.

“I don’t know which one is worse. Seeing the video of my daughter, it hurts, because I didn’t want to see her that way,” Lucretia Kempson said. “But hearing [firefighters] with no urgency to see if she was OK really upset us.”

On the video, one firefighter calmly asks another to help him create better lighting. The Kempsons said that instead of being concerned about the quality of their macabre recording, the responders should have been seeing if there was anything they could do to help their daughter.

Dayna Kempson-Schacht, a 23-year-old mother of two, was killed in a July 17 car crash.

“If you listen to the video, it sounds like casual conversation,” Jeff Kempson said. “They’re discussing parts of the accident, but you just don’t hear them saying, ‘Let’s get in there and see if she's OK,’ ‘Let’s reach in and check for a pulse,’ ‘Let’s get this thing open and get her out of here.’ ... There was just no urgency there.”

In response to a complaint filed by the Kempsons, officials in Spalding County have confirmed they are investigating the incident, but otherwise have had no comment.

Should there be a law?
The Kempsons are hoping the incident will prompt an amendment to state law making it unlawful for firefighters and other emergency responders to even carry cell phones when responding to a call.

A change to a Georgia privacy statute passed this spring prohibits the release of videos like the one taken of Dayna Kempson-Schacht to the media by public agencies. The statute apparently doesn’t apply in the Spalding County case, however, because the firefighter was using a personal cell phone and did not release the video to the media.

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“It is so easy for this to happen to anyone. Any emergency responder on any scene, at any time, who is allowed to have a cell phone can take these videos,” Jeff Kempson said. “I think they should not even be allowed to have cell phones when they are out on these calls. They have their radios. They can communicate.”

The Kempsons can erase the video that was sent to them. But for Lucretia Kempson, who has had trouble sleeping since seeing the clip, the scene plays again and again in her mind.

“It’s hard closing your eyes because when you close your eyes, that’s what you see — Dayna laying in her car, and not being cared for the way she deserved,” she said.

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