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Area residents blame tabloid press for Diana tragedy

September 02, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

The high-speed chase that resulted in the death of Princess Diana early Sunday left area residents shocked, upset and angry.

Most expressed anger at the actions of the media, especially the tabloid press, known for paying large amounts of money for prized pictures taken by paparazzi. Witnesses reportedly saw photographers mounted on motorcycles swarming around the armored Mercedes Diana was riding in shortly before the accident. Seven photographers were reportedly arrested by French police after the crash but haven't been charged.

"I think this ought to say something to the media and especially the paparazzi that they ought to hold back," said Kristy Keller of Hagerstown.

"Obviously when you are driving away at 120 miles per hour, you don't want to be bothered."

Keller was referring to a report the speedometer on the Mercedes was frozen at 121 mph after the impact.

Keller said she had admired Diana for standing up for herself.

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"She was a little bit sassy ... I think she showed that the royal family needed a lot of spring cleaning."

"I think she was victimized (by the press) even while alive," said Patty Larson, of Sharpsburg.

Larson said the tragedy was even greater considering that she had only recently seemed to find happiness after her divorce from Prince Charles a year ago.

"She had the courage to be independent," Larson said.

Rosa Lang of Charles Town, W.Va., said she respects honest journalists, but not those who chase celebrities for pictures. Lang said journalists have a right to photograph public figures at public events but shouldn't swarm around them when they are trying to go to dinner or to their hotel.

"Everybody needs their privacy. I certainly wouldn't want somebody chasing me," said Vickie Carter of Williamsport.

Carter said she believes Diana deserves a state funeral. She said she admired her for her philanthropy, her attempts to raise her children in private - despite the press - and her grace.

"I watched the news all day about it and I made myself depressed. I still can't believe it," said Melissa Martin, of Hagerstown.

"It's a shame that they have to follow her around like that, said her mother, Annelie Martin, of Hagerstown.

"At 12 o'clock at night, why don't they just let her be?" Melissa asked.

But the Martins said part of the blame also rests with Diana's driver, who reportedly was intoxicated.

Denise McIntyre of Hagerstown said the real tragedy is that Diana's two children have lost their mother.

Rachel Stone, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she wept when she heard the news.

"She was a lady and a model for all women. If most women would act like her the world would be a much better place," she said.

Meanwhile, at Wonder Book and Video, a "Diana Remembered" section had already been set up by Sunday afternoon, complete with books, magazines and audio tapes.

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