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Notifying about a classmate's bad accident

Forums: General Discussion
Created on: 09/16/09 04:00 PM Views: 1870 Replies: 15
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I just found out one of our classmates was in a terrible accident and is in hospital in very bad shape. He lived across the street from me and he was the first person I met when we moved to hometown just before I started grade one.

I originally heard it from another classmate who saw the story on the news. I then googled, tried to find any info, couldn't, so I emailed fellow classmate who is friends with a friend of his who confirmed it.

What is the etiquette of notifying the class via the website? Do I just post an announcement on the front page? My concern with that is people don't visit everyday since we're between reunions right now. But I also don't want to come off in a bad way by using email the class.

I don't want to sound like I'm spreading gossip, but I think there are many people on our class list who will want to know so they can send him their best wishes in recovering.

If anyone has dealt with this, I'd appreciate any advice or tips on what you did. It will also help to know what people did upon hearing of the death of classmate and how they notified the class.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 4:45 PM - Response #1

We had a similar incident happen & I posted it on our announcements as well as sent a classwide e-mail. If you have reliable info from several people, then I would feel comfortable relaying the info (prayers and positive thoughts on behalf of an injured classmate doesn't qualify as gossip in my book).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:21 PM - Response #2

What did you say? The info is definitely confirmed.

This is what I have, but I don't know if it's too much info:

I just heard today that he was in a very bad accident a few days ago. Apparently, he was hit by a garbage truck and is in a drug induced coma with very serious injuries - big gash to head, 7 broken ribs, broken femer, collar bone, punctured lung. His sister and brother are flying down there to be with him.

I have placed a sticky on our message board so that people may converse and send their good wishes to classmate and his family. You can subscribe to the thread on the message board so you are notified of any new posts and updates.

Link to message board

Is this too much? Is it appropriate to have a thread on the message board?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:30 PM - Response #3

I think that is too much to provide on the site & via e-mail... This is what I would say and then if someone inquires directly to you, you can provide additional info.

We've been advised that ____ was involved in a serious accident a few days ago and is currently hospitalized at ____ Hospital. Well wishes can be posted on our message forum. Please keep ____ and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Should your classmate unfortunately pass, then I would post & e-mail the funeral notice/obituary so anyone wishing to attend the service receives timely notice. Please accept my well wishes for a recovery for your friend & neighbor!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM - Response #4

Normally, I would think that emailing and on the site is too much, but we are between reunions and there is little activity on the site these days. Sometimes we go a week or two before anyone visits. Our 25th was last year, so there isn't another until our 30th.

If i just do the announcement, then chances are many will miss the notification.
Boy, I sure hope I don't have to update with a death notice. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 5:42 PM - Response #5

I would definitely e-mail the class now & again should the update be positive or negative.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 2:04 AM - Response #6

I agree with Vanessa Williams- I would send a class e-mail. I believe both he and your fellow classmates would appreciate it.
I recently sent out a "class e-mail" about a classmate who was murdered by her husband, left to rot in her apartment for a few days and then finally dumped in a cemetary.
It is awful!!
So many of my classmates were appreciative because they had heard on the news and saw it in papers but never tied the two together because of her name change and her looks had changed so much.
Normally, with deaths I recieve that are recent, where others could attend services, I would e-mail. I haven't had anyone in a serious accident yet, but if it were me, I would want others to know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 2:21 AM - Response #7

I am the root administrator and alos the "Update Member" I check obits daily and send those out as well as parents or family member of our class who died or was in obits. I also send out good things that happen here at home.

Tehn I put out a please for good news to be forwarded to me to post in an email to the class.

In short, tell them the good and the bad - they will appreciate it. If you have one object - you can select who gets that email. Or they can delete.

The older we get (45th celebrated in May) the more you want to know about friends and enemies alike.


Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 2:31 AM - Response #8

Thanks for the info. I did send an email and we have already had an outpouring of support for him on the message board. I also got an email from another classmate in the know who was surprised at how fast word traveled and he told me he would keep me updated.

What a horrible story about the girl murdered by her husband! That was my thinking that people do want to know. It's shocking for us because we have three deceased classmates out of a class of 400 25+ years post grad and when something like this happens, it is difficult to handle.

I am very shocked when I see classes younger than mine with a large list of deceased classmates.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 2:54 AM - Response #9

yes, it is sad..... I also forgot to tell you that through that tragic event we had a record breaking number of visits that day as well as more classmates sign UP for the site too!
word bad usally only the bad news! But it makes people relize just how short life is and how good it is to stay in touch!
I pray YOUR classmate heals well! Smile

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 3:13 AM - Response #10

Thanks. Trying to stay optimistic!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 2:34 AM - Response #11

"Understanding HIPAA Privacy

The Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. At the same time, the Privacy Rule is balanced so that it permits the disclosure of personal health information needed for patient care and other important purposes."
- taken from

As much as we want to pass on about someone being in the hospital, or going to rehab, or whatever, we shouldn't because this is a breech of their security and privacy and is against the law to do so.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:58 AM - Response #12

HIPAA is in place for health providers, insurance co's etc., to protect a patient's health information.

Regardless, it doesn't apply here. The guy in question is a Canadian citizen in Mexico. As a US law, HIPAA is not enforceable there even if it extended to situations like this where classmates are simply trying to get word out about a bad accident, not divulge his entire health history.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM - Response #13

Hi Cathy,

Ok, you are correct in saying that the rule is for medical personnel and is applicable in the US.

However, it just horrifies me personally to think that someone(s) would feel comfortable making my personal business known to everyone via email or posting on website boards. These forms of communication are available for anyone to read...just as I have read your question.

I am not saying that the individual was doing anything wrong when they got into the accident. Looking at this from another angle: What if they had been doing something wrong? What if they had been drunk driving, or speeding, or ran a red light, or happened to look down and their car swerved out of control. What if they didn't want people to really know that they had been in an accident that they were responsible for?

Or what if the medical condition was something that they didn't want to share with everyone due to personal preference, such as being morbidly shy or extremely personal?

Did the hospitalized person give the OK to email everyone or post on a website? If that is the case, then letting everyone know wouldn't be improper. But, if that person (or family members) didn't express their OK, then I would say that it shouldn't be shared. We have to respect individual's privacy as humans.

Emails and websites can have all types of unfamiliar eyes looking at them. As a human living in this world (not speaking of nations or countries), I wouldn't appreciate my business being put out there for everyone to read unless I said, "Yes, please do!"

So, not speaking in HIPAA-terms, I would still say that if you have to ask because you aren't sure, then ask the person who is the news, or don't say anything. That is just being plain respectful to another human.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:31 PM - Response #14

I agree with you. I asked permission from his family. They provide me updates and know they are being posted on our private message board on the website. They are very touched that so many people care and have sent well wishes.

You are right, someone may feel the complete opposite. I feel I took steps to ensure no toes were stepped on and I continue to do so to ensure his privacy and that of his family.

Nothing is being posted publicly. People have been posting good wishes on his Facebook page. I have received constant requests for updates on FB, but direct them to the private message board.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 4:07 PM - Response #15

Hi Kathy,

I am going thru something similar. One of our classmates was just diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and is in the hospital. What I did was find out all the info from her husband and asked his permission to send an email to the class for prayers. I sent an email with no details except that she was diagnosed with the cancer and was in this hospital in this room number if anyone wanted to send cards. I also gave Barbara's address for cards as well. I asked for everyone to pray for her. I also said in the email that updates on Barbara would be put on the Message Forum for those interested in keeping up with her. I started a Prayer Request page with her on there. Her daughter keeps me up to date and I then put those updates on the Message Forum. We also sent her flowers as a class that came out of the reunion fund.

I hope this helps and I hope that your classmate has a full recovery.

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