‘Seinfeld’ star Wayne Knight latest victim of Internet death hoax
(CNN) — It’s not news that the Internet enjoys killing celebrities.
But the hoaxes seem a bit meaner and more callous when the details appear to be lifted from an actual accident involving a fatality.
“Seinfeld” star Wayne Knight took to Twitter over the weekend to dispel a fake report he had been killed in a car crash on Route 446 in Pennsylvania. According to the story that made the rounds on the Web — including a fake TMZ website — the accident involved his Mercedes, which crashed into a tractor-trailer near the Pennsylvania-New York state line.
“Some of you will be glad to hear this, others strangely disappointed, but . . .I am alive and well!,” he tweeted. He later added, “Does someone have to DIE to trend? Geez! Thanks for all the love everybody. I didn’t know you cared. Glad to be breathing!”
However, someone did die recently in a crash at that site. The Buffalo (New York) News reported that Lindsay M. Schmit, 26, was killed Thursday when the Chevrolet Malibu she was traveling in crossed the center line on Route 446 and was struck by a tractor-trailer. Schmit’s fiancé, Christopher Johnston, and her 2-year-old son, Carter Pontius, were also in the car and critically injured.
Stars are often the targets of such hoaxes. Actor Eddie Murphy has been “killed” several times on Twitter, and actor Jeff Goldblum appeared on “The Colbert Report” in 2009 to announce that he was, in fact, still alive despite Internet reports to the contrary. TMZ.today, which posted the fake Knight death report, also posted an erroneous report that former “Family Ties” child star Brian Bonsall had died of a drug overdose. The headline for the story listed the actor as “Bosnell.”
Bonsall appeared to take the news in in stride, tweeting from his unverified account, “Well apparently i’m dead, lol but I’ll have you know I’m doing well and enjoying a cup of coffee at home.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, several sites picked up on the Knight death hoax, which also appeared on a fake US Weekly site. The Hollywood Reporter attempted to trace the fake sites and reported that the registration names for TMZ.today are listed as private, while the fake Usmagazine.us site is registered to someone named Ryan Wiseman in San Antonio.
Unlike his “Seinfeld” character Newman, Knight showed he had a heart, offering his condolences to Schmit’s loved ones and apologies to those taken aback by the premature reports of his passing.
“Regrets to my friends and family who were shocked this morning and the family of the woman who actually died in my ‘supposed’ accident,” he tweeted.