Shepard Smith sent out a heartfelt apology to viewers on Friday shortly after a Phoenix car chase airing on Fox News ended with the man being pursued apparently shooting himself to death.
The suspect had fled from law enforcement at speeds of almost 100 mph. At about 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, he pulled off the road, got out of the vehicle, ran away down a dirt path, and then appeared to shoot himself in the head.
"Get off it. Get off it. Get off it!" the anchor exclaimed upon realizing what had happened before Fox cut to a commercial.
When the program came back on, Smith said he had some explaining to do.
"While we were taking that car chase and showing it to you live, when the guy pulled over and got out of the vehicle, we went on delay. That's why I didn't talk for about 10 seconds," Shepard said into the camera. "We created a five-second delay as if you were to bleep back your DVR five seconds, that was what we did with the picture we were showing you so that we could see in the studio what was happening five seconds before you did, so that if anything went horribly wrong, we'd be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it and we really messed up. And we're all very sorry.
"That didn't belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV and I personally apologize to you that that happened.
"Sometimes we see a lot of things that we don't let get to you because it's not time-appropriate. It's insensitive. It's just wrong. And that was wrong. And that won't happen again on my watch. And I'm sorry."
In addition to Smith's apology, Fox News executive VP Michael Clemente issued his own statement:
"We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay," Clemente said. "Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen."