Mom outraged over car crash photos of daughter

BARNEGAT, N.J. - November 9, 2011

Cathy Bates, 40, was killed in a head-on crash on Route 72 in Barnegat back in 2009.

While first responders were trying to save her, a member of the Pinewood Estates Volunteer Fire Company snapped pictures of her inside the car and posted the photos on Facebook.

Those pictures were published before Cathy's family even knew she'd been in an accident.

"To take these pictures and post them on your personal website and make hard copies and show them around... This is unacceptable," said Cathy's mother, Lucille.

The photos were quickly taken down. The fire chief says there were no close-ups and the person who took the pictures has left the department.

Horrified by what happened, Lucille has collected thousands of signatures on petitions supporting the passage of "Cathy's Law" - named for her daughter - which would prohibit first responders from taking graphic images at a scene and sharing them without the okay of the victim's family.

Violators could face fines and jail.

"They may not be thinking about what it's doing to a family but they might think about what it's going to do to them," said Bates. She went on to say pictures for training purposes are one thing, but this was different.

In fact, many fire departments and first aid squads post pictures of rescues on their websites but leave out faces. It's not uncommon for more graphic photos to make the rounds privately.

"They shouldn't become public at all, they shouldn't be allowed to be circulated," said Jim Larsen of Manchester, New Jersey.

"I can't even imagine anyone wanting to do that,' said Irene Harris of Manahawkin.

Cathy's Law legislation has been introduced in Trenton and is awaiting committee hearings.

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