KTVI-TV cameraman Wade Smith was struck and seriously injured by a Hillsdale, Missouri, municipal vehicle on Aug. 11, 2023, with the village’s top official in the passenger seat. The station reported that Smith required emergency surgery and was recovering at home. The vehicle’s driver — an employee of the suburban St. Louis village — was arrested in connection with the incident in early September, it added.
Smith and reporter Mitch McCoy were investigating reports that municipal governments were towing individual’s vehicles from their driveways due to expired tags or the absence of a village sticker, according to KTVI.
When the pair went to Village Hall to interview Dorothy Moore, the chair of the Board of Trustees who functionally serves as mayor, the chief of police informed the journalists that she wasn’t there. An hour later, Smith saw Moore leaving the hall through the back door.
Smith and McCoy followed as Moore climbed into a public works truck and slid into the passenger seat as the municipal employee got behind the wheel, KTVI reported. As he drove away at the urging of Moore, Smith was run over by the trailer attached to the truck and fell to the ground.
An accident report filed about the incident stated that the Hillsdale worker saw Smith on the ground as they drove away, but told police he didn’t know Smith had been hit, according to KTVI.
Smith also dropped the camera when he was struck, but the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker was not immediately able to confirm the extent of the damage to the equipment.
Smith’s attorney Chet Pleban confirmed to St. Louis Today that Smith’s tibia had been broken and that he was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery.
“It’s a pretty sad day when a reporter or a cameraman is run over by a vehicle simply because an elected official doesn’t want to talk to them,” Pleban said.
The Associated Press reported on Sept. 8 that the municipal worker had been released pending a prosecutor’s review to decide whether to pursue charges.
Neither Smith’s attorney nor KTVI responded to requests for comment.