For Sophie Delezio, surviving two horrific accidents has been hard enough, now her family is fending off inaccurate media reports on her.

An embargoed story transmitted last night by AAP, based on a media release promoting a New Idea story on the five-year-old, says Delezio “has now been diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition”.

That’s in the first paragraph. The second paragraph also suggests she currently has bleeding on the brain.

The story is wrong but was widely picked up and reprinted. The Daily Telegraph ran a story headed Sophie Bleeding in Brain while The Australian ran a story under the headline Sophie’s Brain Injury with its journo James Madden happy to put his name on the story.

Sky News also went in blind with “Sophie’s Setback” but seems to have since pulled the story, which has been discussed on television and radio breakfast programs, generally as the lead item, today.

Meanwhile the Smage ran AAP’s story but were quick today to run a corrected story on their website before midday.

The family’s agent Nic Karandonis said this morning the bleeding on the brain was a direct consequence of Delezio’s second accident. “She has no bleeding on the brain currently and probably never will again,” he told Crikey.

Sophie’s father, Ron, issued a statement through Karandonis today, saying his daughter “is not, as has been erroneously suggested in the media this morning, currently suffering from bleeding on the brain and is in no immediate danger whatsoever”.

He explains that in the story published in the current issue of New Idea, he is quoted as saying: “It is a serious problem that may flare up when she is older”.

“The journalist from another media agency unrelated to New Idea and responsible for the erroneous and damaging article needs to check his or her facts more clearly in future and, when drawing upon other people’s stories, research their material more thoroughly,” Karandonis said.

“The story has caused considerable stress to the Delezio family, their friends and the whole of Australia who once again were plunged into despair at the thought of Sophie facing death for a third time.”

Sophie was left with near-fatal injuries when she was hit by a car while being helped in a pushchair across a pedestrian crossing at Seaforth, in Sydney’s north, in May. It was the second horrific accident she had endured in three years.

She had been recuperating from a 2003 accident in which 70-year-old driver Donald McNeall suffered a seizure and ploughed into her childcare centre in the northern beachside suburb of Fairlight. She sustained horrific burns after the car burst into flames, and also lost some of her fingers and both her feet.

Peter Fray

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