Did Santa lie about a child dying in his arms? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Did Santa lie about a child dying in his arms?

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Perhaps the most heartwarming viral story of the Christmas season can’t be verified, according to the Knoxville New Sentinel It originally published the story of a terminally ill child who died in a Santa Claus actor’s arms, but is “no longer standing by the veracity” of the account.

In an article signed by News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy and Sam Venable, who wrote the column, the newspaper says the story came to it indirectly through a known source. Then the Santa Claus at the center of the tale, Eric Scmitt-Matzen, was contacted, though in the initial interview he promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and nurse who summoned him to the hospital.

The News Sentinel says Schmitt-Matzen’s accounting has stayed consistent as the story went viral across social media and major news outlets. But the newspaper’s attempt to independently verify the story has “proven unsuccessful,” and therefore the “story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification."

Investigating the story, Snopes says East Tennessee Children's Hospital and University of Tennessee Medical Center confirmed a visit like the one described did not occur at either facility and other hospitals have been contacted. The site also says it's "unclear" whether the situation constitutes a privacy violation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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