This story was first published on August 7th 2008.
This set of photographs depicting a series of unfortunate, if spectacular, events involving one small car and two large crane trucks has been circulating since 2004.
Most of the images in the sequence are genuine and depict a real event. However, the visual “punch line” of the piece, the image showing the second larger crane toppling into the water, is a digital fake created from earlier photographs in the sequence.
Closer scrutiny of the last image reveals that it is actually an altered version of the fifth photograph. Bystanders are in the same position in both images. In photo five, the green crane truck was not even at the scene. Thus, it is clearly not credible to suggest that the same group of people stood like statues in the very same positions while the green truck was called, arrived and subsequently came to grief.
Moreover, a telltale “smudged” appearance around the chassis of the “falling” truck and on the pier show where elements of the original photograph were digitally removed and the truck added in. The unchanged position of the rearview mirror reflection in the truck’s windscreen and other signs show that the prankster cut the fully upright truck from one of the earlier photographs, tilted it sideways, and placed it in the last image.
And, finally, in the short space of time between which the photographer supposedly snapped photos eight and nine, spectators, vehicles, and equipment miraculously disappear while the small white boat just as miraculously returns.
The exposure of the last photo as fake rob the sequence of much of its power. We tend to take certain dark enjoyment from examples of disastrous mismanagement in others (unless it impacts on us directly), so the spectacle of the second crane operator exhibiting the same incompetence as the first and losing his vehicle to the briny sea will seem just too good not to share for many recipients.
In reality, the second larger crane successfully retrieved both the small car and the smaller crane without further mishap.
The accident’s original photographs were taken by Nicholas Griffin from Roundstone and were previously available on the O’Dowds Seafood Bar & Restaurant website.
Even without the fake image, the photo sequence was sure to be a popular social media topic and inbox filler, and, indeed, it circulated vigorously well before the unknown prankster added the last altered image.
And it does show a real event that occurred in 2004 at a pier at Roundstone, in Galway, Ireland. At the time, the event was described by a Roundstone blogger, thusly:
We have certainly have had our ups and downs in the village this year what with somebody falling off the village wall, thank god not killed, and then in the wee hours of Saturday morning, a car goes into the Harbour, with a young man at the wheel, the car landed upside down and if it was not for the vigilance Mary King who alerted Sean de Courcey, Sean fair play to him pulled this man out of the car, which was nearly totally submerged in the tide and pulled him to safety, what ever way you look at it, Sean saved his life, yet again another near fatal accident, and then I suppose on the slightly humorous side and to add insult to injury, a tow truck was called out to pull the car out, now get this, the truck fell in while trying to lift the car, no don’t worry there was no one in it, it was remote controlled, but the machine was not heavier enough to lift the car out, therefore, a proper professional machine had to be called in, and the job was done, no loss of life, what was interesting the amount of people that came to have a look at this task you would think we had another social event going on
Thankfully, no people were injured in the incident, although both the car driver and the first crane operator may have suffered red faces and hefty blows to their pride.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!