A reporter and a photojournalist for Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE deliberately crashed a trailer for a report on towing safety this week.
The report, which aired Wednesday, featured an interview with a woman whose husband and three-year-old daughter died after a trailer came unhitched from an oncoming pickup truck while they were driving. Reporter Boyd Huppert and photojournalist Jonathan Malat staged the crash to demonstrate the consequences of not “properly pack, haul and tow items like canoes, kayaks and mattresses.”
Poynter’s Al Tompkins takes a behind-the-scenes look at the process of putting the report together:
“The people in HR were rightfully concerned about how we were going to do this,” Huppert said. “We had a couple of first responders, officers from the highway patrol and Minnesota Department of Transportation folks there helping up.” He continued: “At one point our news director told me if I didn’t feel safe driving the vehicle that was towing the trailer that she would drive it. No way was I going to let that happen.”
The MNDOT workers rigged a closed test track road with a couple of bumps intended to jar the improperly attached trailer loose when it hit. Malat attached GoPro miniature cameras to the tongue of the trailer, to the top of the trailer, down low on the back of the truck, inside the truck, and high on the truck. “I did tell my chief photographer that we might tear up some gear on this one,” Malat said. “Dumb luck we didn’t.”
Watch the report after the jump. Read more