This story was first published on August 7th 2008.
A sequence of photographs supposedly shows a large crane truck toppling off a pier as it tries to lift a submerged vehicle and then an even larger crane truck tipping into the water as it attempts to retrieve the first crane truck.
The image of the second crane tipping is fake. The other images are genuine.
This set of photographs depicting a series of unfortunate, if spectacular, events involving one small car and two large crane trucks has been circulating via email and online 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, in fact, a fake digitally created from earlier photographs in the sequence. A closer scrutiny of the last image in the sequence reveals that it is actually an altered version of the fifth photograph. Bystanders are in precisely 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 supposedly tipping truck added in. The unchanged position of the rearview mirror reflection in the truck’s windscreen and other signs show that the fully upright truck was cut from one of the earlier photographs, tilted sideways, and placed into position in the last image. And, finally, in the short space of time between which images 8 and 9 were supposedly snapped, a number of spectators, vehicles and equipment miraculously disappear while the small white boat just as miraculously returns.
The exposure of the last photo as fake tends to 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 forward for many recipients. But, in reality, the second larger crane successfully retrieved both the small car and the smaller crane without further mishap.
The original photographs of the accident 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 message board topic and inbox filler and, indeed, it circulated vigorously well before some 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 operator of the first crane may have suffered red faces and hefty blows to their pride.