On Monday, June 1, 2015, tragedy struck on the tumultuous waters of Bear Lake on the Utah-Idaho border when a quick-moving storm capsized a boat and claimed four lives. Among those on the boat were best friends Tiffany Stoker and Tylinn Tilley, two 14-year-old girls who had to tread water for hours before help came.
Local news outlets (including LDS Living) heavily reported on one touching aspect of Tiffany and Tylinn’s survival—they spent their time struggling to stay above water praying and singing Primary songs with each other. After what must have seemed like an eternity, the girls were rescued just in time—their temperature was less than 70 degrees.
Shortly after the news broke, ABC’s Good Morning America contacted the girls and asked to conduct an interview. The girls agreed, on the condition that the fundraising web pages for the families of the deceased be included in the story.
When the story aired last Thursday morning, many people familiar with local news coverage of the event were disappointed to find that not only had GMA failed to include the fundraising pages, but they had removed religious elements from the story altogether. In fact, they replaced the Primary songs with Dory’s “Just Keep Swimming” mantra from the Disney film Finding Nemo.
“As much as I like Nemo, it had nothing to do with [their] survival,” Tylinn’s father, Lance, clarified on Facebook.
GMA’s segment drew heavy criticism from the local community. Many offended by the story’s angle either took to social media or contacted the network directly to voice their concerns.
It wasn’t long before GMA started to backtrack. Within a couple days, the story on the website had been altered to include the detail that during their ordeal, the girls “chanted songs and said prayers.” They also added the previously omitted fundraising links. The video, however, was not changed and still contains the incorrect Finding Nemo detail.
The fundraising links to aid in funeral and medical expenses are included below for your convenience.