June 4, 2002







In addition to the terrorist attacks, the accidental tourist unwittingly witnessed the Hindenberg explosion and the ravaging of New York by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man. photos from www.touristofdeath.com

The accidental tourist guy

How one man witnessed the greatest tragedies in history

It arrived as an email attachment: a startling picture of a deadpan-faced tourist standing on the observation deck at the World Trade Center with an American Airlines jet gleaming below, milliseconds from collision.
The story that preceded the picture was that the photo had been downloaded from a digital camera found in the WTC rubble. Of course anyone with half a brain could figure out that this was a Photoshop-fueled hoax.

The picture, the story, the man - nothing was right.

But the hoax, of course, spread like a Wyoming brushfire. Some forwarded it because they appreciated the dark humor in the days following the tragedy. Some people, the types who still open strange attachments from people they don't know, probably fell for it and needed to share this amazing discovery with the world.

The Net, as it often does, picked up the meme and ran with it, inserting the man who came to be known as "Tourist Guy" into other familiar disasters. It was the biggest web theme since the heady days of "All Your Base Are Belong to Us."

An entrepreneurial webmaster went so far as to build a web page at www.touristguy.com to show the dozens of images that came from across the web. But the question remained: Who is this guy?

A Brazilian man claimed the man was him, but in late November a Hungarian named Peter wrote to the touristguy.com webmaster and provided the original, non-altered picture, and other angles for proof. Tourist Guy had been found, very much alive.

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