On Friday morning while visiting family in Virginia for the holiday weekend, North Carolina Senator Jim Davis was bombarded with phone calls from friends concerned about his well being. After answering a call from Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale, Davis learned that people in Western North Carolina thought he had died of an apparent heart attack.
“I had no idea what was going on,” Davis said Friday afternoon. “People were calling to see if I was alive, and I looked in the mirror, and sure enough, I am doing ok.”
The rumors of Davis’ death began Friday morning at 7:57 a.m., when an anonymous person altered Davis’ Wikipedia page. The changes to Davis’ Wikipedia page included listing a date of death as April 16, 2014. The page read, “Davis died unexpectedly on April 16, 2014, of suspected heart attack. Aged 67, he collapsed while jogging in a park not far from his home.”
Davis’ page was changed from being listed as a “living person,” and the entire article was written as if Davis had passed away. The anonymous person, who used an I.P address registered overseas, cites sources for the information regarding Davis’ death as WLOS News13 and The Macon County News. The link to the WLOS story was a broken link that didn’t lead to anything, and the article cited for The Macon County News, was re-directed to an actual news article on a different topic.
According to WLOS, their site was not hacked, but the person who changed Davis’ page falsely attributed an article that never existed. The Wikipedia page listed a Macon County News link with headline, “Jim Davis found dead in park,” but no such article was ever written or printed. The Macon County News’ website was not hacked either. Neither link lead readers anywhere.
Despite the foul play on the page, Davis believes no malicious actions were intended. “The only thing I can think of is that someone was confused,” said Davis. “Jim Davis is a common name, not just in general, but especially where I live, so maybe it was another Jim Davis.”
When the individual who changed Davis’ information was asked via Wikipedia Talk, where he got his information, he claimed to have found it on the WLOS homepage. He also claimed to be named Eric.
The confusion was sorted out by Wikipedia within a couple of hours, and the public was made aware of the death hoax.
Davis said that when Sen. Tom Apodaca called to checkin, Davis took his pulse and was able to find one. “I am feeling good,” said Davis.