U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Cameraman hit by village vehicle, municipal employee arrested

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 11, 2023
Hillsdale, Missouri


Public figure
Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken

In its broadcast about the incident, KTVI-TV reported that photographer Wade Smith (not pictured) was seriously injured in Hillsdale, Missouri, when a public works truck pulling a trailer struck him on Aug. 11, 2023.

February 7, 2024 - Update

Charge dropped for Missouri municipal worker who hit cameraman with vehicle

A criminal charge against a Missouri municipal worker who ran over KTVI-TV cameraman Wade Smith was dropped on Feb. 7, 2024, Smith’s attorney confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Smith and a KTVI reporter were at the municipal building of the suburban St. Louis village of Hillsdale in August 2023 to interview Dorothy Moore, the chair of Hillsdale’s Board of Trustees who functionally serves as mayor. The two were told that Moore was not on the premises, but saw her leave through a back door, climb into a public works truck and urge the municipal employee in the driver’s seat to drive away.

As the KTVI news team approached the truck, attempting to speak to Moore, Smith was hit with a trailer attached to the truck and dropped his camera. His tibia was broken and he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The driver, later identified as Earl Longmeyer, was arrested in September and charged with operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, according to court documents at the time.

But at a confidential Feb. 7 hearing, the Post-Dispatch reported, the case against Longmeyer was dropped when a grand jury declined to indict him and the case documents were removed from public court records.

“We have been attempting to reach the prosecutor to learn the reason for the dismissal,” Smith’s attorney Chet Pleban told the Tracker.

August 11, 2023

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 individuals’ 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 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 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.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].