This week, the internet has been abuzz about a 5-year-old boy who died in Santa's arms after the Old Elf granted his final wish. But the newspaper that originally told his story is now backing off of the story, saying it "can't be verified".
The Knoxville News Sentinel told the story of Santa, aka Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who said a terminally ill child died in his arms a few weeks ago.
The story was everywhere and he was interviewed on TV stations across the country. Through it all, he told virtually the same story: that he had been called on to visit a child in his last moments and that the boy asked for help and then hugged Scmitt-Matzen before dying in his arms.
Santa never identified the family or the hospital to the newspaper or any other sources.
Since publication of the story, the News Sentinel said it conducted investigations in an attempt to verify his story. They said it has been unsuccessful and cannot "establish that Schmitt-Matzen's account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate."
For those reasons, the newspaper has stated it no longer stands by Santa's claims. CLICK here for more.
The paper said it did verify all of his background information, including his time in the 75h Rangers.
Here's how his story went:
He had just gotten home from work when he got the call from a nurse friend of his. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old who needed to see Santa Claus. He wanted to change into the full suit but she said there was no time.
Since he was already wearing his suspenders, she said those would have to do and he got to the hospital 15 minutes later.
He met the boy's family and then gave them an important warning:
"I sized up the situation and told everyone, 'If you think you're going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I'll break down and can't do my job.' "
Santa went into the boy's room alone.
He walked in and asked the boy about why he's going to miss Christmas this year and then gave him a gift. He could barely even open the wrapping paper but he loved what was inside.
Then the boy said "They say I'm gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I'm going?"
Santa told him to tell everyone when he gets there that he's Santa's Number One Elf and that he knew they would let him in.
The boy sat up, gave him a big hug and asked one final question:
"Santa, can you help me?"
Santa hugged him back. Before he could say anything, the boy died in his arms.
"I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him."
By then, the boy's family realized what happened. His mom ran in screaming 'not yet' as Santa gave her son back to her.
"I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I've seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses' station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don't know how they can take it," he told the News Sentinel.