Update: Matthew and Kelly Stafford announced Thursday afternoon that they will pay for Smiley’s medical expenses, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and various other reports.
SAN DIEGO — Video feeds were covering every aspect of the Super Bowl victory parade in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and cameras caught the moment that a photographer slipped off stage right in front of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The photojournalist, a San Diego State University alum named Kelly Smiley, fractured her spine, she later said on Twitter. She also broke two cameras.
Video shows Stafford make a face of shock after the fall, then turn and walk away, sipping from a bottle of water. His wife, Kelly, also appears shocked and rushes to the edge of the riser to look down at Smiley.
A trip to the emergency room and x-rays revealed a spinal fracture, Smiley later said online. Loved ones created a GoFundMe account to help with her medical expenses and broken equipment.
“Since Kelly is a working photographer, she needs this gear to help keep her working after fully recovering,” the fundraiser’s organizer wrote. “Kelly is loved by all who know her and is a well-respected individual in the photography community.”
In a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times, the Staffords and the Rams wrote, “As we told Kelly, we will be covering all her hospital bills and replacing her cameras.”
“We wish her a speedy recovery,” the statement continued.
In rallying people to help Smiley, PFF’s Austin Gayle referred to the photographer as “an Aztec legend that worked with me on the paper at SDSU.”
A tweet from Barstool Sports that shows Smiley’s fall generated more than 7 million views by Thursday morning. The media company later shared her GoFundMe.
“This is so scary,” the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Andrew Dyer wrote on Twitter. “Photographer is Daily Aztec alum … People are yucking it up or dunking on Stafford but it’s not funny.”
Some fans criticized Stafford’s reaction to the incident, saying he didn’t seem concerned for Smiley’s well-being. Others defended the quarterback, arguing the clip is short and lacks context. Stafford hadn’t publicly remarked on the negative reactions as of Thursday morning.
Smiley is a photo editor for the NFL and a freelance photographer, according to her personal website. She graduated from SDSU in 2018, her LinkedIn says. She was a staff photographer and photo editor at The Daily Aztec, the university’s independent student newspaper.
FOX 5’s Christy Simeral contributed to this report.