Russell Wilson's broken legs: why Seahawks story is a hoax

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in Jan. 6, 2013 game against the Washington Redskins. Seattle won 24-14.

An Internet story was being passed around Tuesday morning claiming Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson broke both his legs.

The story was clearly a hoax, and KIRO 7 found this isn't the first time the same hoax has been used with an NFL quarterback.

How can you tell the story is fake? There are several ways.

The article was passed around Tuesday morning on Twitter, and links pointed back to a site called the Global Associated News. That site cited another bogus organization, the Seattle Highway Safety Authority, as the source confirming Wilson's injury "in a traffic altercation."

Traffic accidents are investigated by Seattle police, the State Patrol, or in rare cases, other agencies. But there's no agency called the Highway Safety Authority. The closest is the State Traffic Safety Commission, and they don't investigate collisions as police do.

Here's another way to tell the story is bogus: the fake article claimed that Russell's crash involved a 76-year-old woman driving a 2010 Audi. The made-up article claims the Audi driver "was issued a citation for failing to stop at a red light before striking the vehicle driven by Russell Wilson at a high rate of speed."

Staff at KIRO 7 monitor police incidents around the clock with scanners and other applications, so if there were an injury accident – a case that could eventually resulted in a felony vehicular assault charge – you would have heard about it either on a KIRO 7 broadcast, on kirotv.com, or on KIRO social media pages.

Had the case been real, Seattle police also would have put out some kind of information on their Twitter feed (@seattlepd) or department blotter – even though they don't typically name drivers. If the State Patrol handled the case, something likely would have been tweeted by the trooper who responds to media requests in King County (@wspd2pio), and if it were King County case, the information likely would have come from Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindi West (@kingcosoPIO).

And that's another flaw with the bogus story: Police rarely give citations at the scene of vehicular assault cases. Traffic collision detectives reconstruct the scene and those investigations are lengthy.

There also are ways you can check the validity of the report yourself. The Seattle Fire Department lists all response on their website in real time. Those response times and locations stay on their website, meaning you can search any Seattle incident going back to when the service started in November 2003.

Had there been a serious injury, the Seahawks would have likely had some kind of media briefing or announcement on their website. Wilson and his teammates are also on Twitter, and they're also good sources of information as well.

The other easy way to disprove it: Google the vehicle details and story terms. That will lead you to a similar bogus article about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger breaking both legs in a car accident.

Do bogus stories get through media safeguards? Occasionally. One of the biggest came in the 2008 when The New York Times was Rick-rolled in a story about the popular Internet prank.

But it takes a little more than a website and a rehashed story.