Pennsylvania Fire Chief, Freelance Photographer in Scuffle at Crash Scene

The Walker Township fire chief and a freelance photographer are both being cited for harassment following an incident that occurred at the scene of a single vehicle crash.


TAMAQUA, Pa. -- Republican Herald

Chief David J. Duffy said photographer Lawrence Neff was overly aggressive, while Neff claims it was the other way around.

Both men were on the scene of the crash that occurred around 7:45 a.m. near 155 Valley Road in which a vehicle swerved to miss a deer and struck a utility pole.

The injured driver was transported to Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street.

Duffy told the newspaper that he verbally warned Neff -- who was about 10 feet from the wrecked vehicle -- to back away from the scene two times, but that he continued to "push the camera into my face."

Neff claims that Duffy snapped and began cursing and pushing him and grabbed him by the throat before throwing him two lanes across the highway and into a rocky area, according to the report.

Duffy acknowledge that he pushed the photographer, but only slightly.

Trooper Michael Van Buskirk -- who was on the scene when the incident occurred -- wrote in an incident report that Duffy warned Neff about staying at a safe distance from the scene and that the conversation escalated to the point that Neff allegedly touched Duffy with his camera.

Van Buskirk wrote in the report that Duffy then pushed the video camera into Neff, causing him to walk backwards approximately 30 feet across the roadway, where he fell and injured his lower back.

Neff said it took about an hour until an ambulance arrived for him although he would refuse treatment. He later sought treatment at a hospital in Lehighton, according to the newspaper.

This is not the first time the photographer and the fire chief have squared off at the scene of emergency situations, Neff said.

"I have explained to him that I have no problem working with reporters, but let me do my job," Duffy said. "I haven't been right since this happened. I'm so sorry it happened, but it was completely uncalled for. He doesn't respect the authority of the scene, and I did not assault him. I pushed the camera. That was it."

Neff said he has video of the incident, and will file a civil suit.