Thursday 22 August 2019

Story about terminally ill boy dying in arms of Santa Claus actor 'can't be verified'

Eric Schmitt-Matzen (Photo: Facebook/Eric Schmitt-Matzen)
Eric Schmitt-Matzen (Photo: Facebook/Eric Schmitt-Matzen) Newsdesk Newsdesk

A viral story about a Santa Claus actor holding a dying child in his arms might not be true, according to reports.

Earlier this week the story of Eric Schmitt-Matzen captured the imagination of the world.

But now the newspaper that broke the story, the Knoxville News Sentinel, has retracted its confidence in it claiming the details do not check out.

Mr Matzen, who works as an engineer in Jacksboro, Texas for his day job, works for Santa during the festive season.

The 60-year-old said he received a call from a nurse he knows at his local hospital who said there was a young child who was very sick and wanted to spend some time with him.

Eric told USA Today he met the boy in the hospital and he hugged the boy who died in his arms.

He said: "I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him."

The Knoxville News Sentinel has reported in an editor's note that it carried out an additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account.

"This has proven unsuccessful. Although facts about his background have checked out, his story of bringing a gift to a dying child remains unverified. The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate.

"Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account."

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