FOX NEWS - It's the one story everyone wants to be a hoax.
A Tennessee newspaper that reported a boy died on Santa's lap -- complete with a heart-wrenching account of his final words -- said Wednesday it can no longer vouch for the veracity of the depressingly Dickensian Christmas story.
The News Sentinel published a story Sunday about a Campbell County Santa Claus actor, Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who said a terminally ill child had died in his arms. The story quickly went viral, with dozens of local and national news outlets interviewing Schmitt-Matzen about his emotional encounter with the unnamed 5-year-old boy.
But the paper said it cannot verify the account by Schmitt-Matzen, a 60-year-old mechanical engineer from Jacksboro, Tenn., who spends time volunteering as Santa Claus at a local hospital.
"I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I've seen my share of [stuff]," Schmitt-Matzen told USA Today. "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."
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