When is a photograph worth a life?

Admit it, you read the celebrity-centric tabloids and magazines while standing in the grocery store line. One of the Kardashians got married/divorced, some other celebrity was caught out without her makeup on, another one is dying of some rare, tropical disease. I read them, too, sometimes. If we’re guilty of anything, it’s consuming tidbits of strangers’ lives, people whose livelihoods depend on an incestuous relationship between p.r. handlers, studio personnel and the paparazzi.

But this isn’t a story about whether it’s right or wrong to live vicariously through others, or even whether being famous should preclude you from having a right to privacy. No, this story is about someone’s life being lost in the pursuit of one picture.

On Tuesday night in Los Angeles, Chris Guerra, a 29-year-old photographer—a paparazzo intent on getting a picture of pop singer Justin Bieber—was struck and killed by an SUV driven by a 69-year-old woman. As reported by KTLA, Guerra had been following Bieber’s white Ferrari on Interstate 405 when the sports car was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and directed off the freeway onto Sepulveda Boulevard—a major L.A. artery. According to the CHP, Guerra parked his car across the boulevard from the Ferrari, crossed the street to take pictures of the police stop, and was hit by the SUV after he took pictures of Bieber’s car and was walking back across Sepulveda to his own car.

What was so important that Guerra felt it necessary to put his life in danger, for one chance photo?

… Chris Guerra was quite sure Justin had been smoking pot while driving earlier in the day.

[A friend and mentor] who spoke with Chris at 5:16 PM — less than an hour before he was killed — did not want us to use his name….

He also says he believes Justin is partly to blame for Chris’ death because of the singer’s reckless driving history and alleged pot smoking which made it a big story to follow.

It was Justin who was partly to blame?

The ironic twist, which makes a horrific event move into the realm of pathos, is that Bieber
wasn’t even driving the white Ferrari

There were no images of Bieber in Guerra’s camera because Bieber was not there. Someone else was driving his car, but Guerra, so focused on the reward for shooting what might have been an exclusive pic, lost sight of his own safety.

Read the whole thing

(Hat tip Wombat-socho and Live At Five)

-Becca Lower

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