(KNOXSVILLE NEWS SENTINEL) Last Sunday, the News Sentinel published the story of a Campbell County Santa Claus actor, Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who said a terminally ill child had died in his arms.

Immediately, the story went viral. Follow-up interviews and video recordings by local and national television outlets showed a very emotional Schmitt-Matzen retelling the story in virtually the same words he gave to the News Sentinel.

Schmitt-Matzen had not approached the News Sentinel originally with the story. The information came to the newspaper indirectly through a known source, and Schmitt-Matzen was then contacted and asked about the incident. At the time of that initial interview, he said he had promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and the nurse who summoned him to the hospital bedside. In follow-up interviews, he has continued to hold this position and stand by his account.

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