WEIRD NEWS
11/05/2014 10:08 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Outrageous 911: 'I Think A F--king Buffalo Fell On Me'

When Jim Harris called 911 back in June 2010, he could barely speak. A mounted, 200-pound head of a water buffalo fell on him in the middle of the night.

"I think a f---ing buffalo fell on me," he told the dispatcher.

To be sure, it was an experience he'd wish had never happened. Now imagine his surprise when he discovered that infamous 911 call had been turned into a segment on "Outrageous 911," a TLC reality show that airs Wednesday nights.

Now in its second season, the show promises "the actual audio from some of the most ridiculous –- and real-life -– calls ever received."

Nevertheless, the show changes names, dates and the circumstances behind the calls all in the name of entertainment -- so much so that one might question the amount of reality in this reality show.

The water buffalo episode aired Oct. 29, but Harris, 61, had no clue his accident had been dramatized until contacted by HuffPost, and he wasn't sure how he felt about it.

"I don't know if I have a reaction to it," he told HuffPost. "It wasn't funny for me. I had to have neck surgery last year because of it.

Harris, a former marine, was sleeping in his home in Islamorada, Florida, when the buffalo head -- nicknamed "Bubba" by the landlord -- fell on him and crushed him, according to NBC Miami.

When Harris' misfortune hit the media, the story got lots of play, in part because of Harris' "I think a f---ing buffalo fell on me" quote.

"The next day, there were 20 reporters outside of my house," he told HuffPost. "I had to throw one guy out. He wanted me to pose next to the head. I had a black eye and he's making a joke out of it."

More than four years later, "Outrageous 911" is playing Harris' 911 call for laughs. However, all the other details were changed for its dramatic re-enactment.

The show segment centers on a millionaire named Burton Welbourne, who, according to the narrator, was trying to move a large water buffalo head placed on the mantel so he could practice his golf swing in the house.

The head falls on him, leaving him flat on the ground unable to move, except to call 911.

Harris' call is the one used on the show, including his "I think a f---ing buffalo fell on me" declaration.

Except for the 911 call, all the other details on this reality show have been altered, including name of victim, age, how the water buffalo fell, and where it took place.

The water buffalo head used in the video doesn't even have the menacing horns associated with the creature.

In real life, Harris isn't a millionaire, nor has he ever played golf. He's an entrepreneur who runs a water purification company in the Florida Keys.

A TLC spokeswoman told HuffPost the exact details of the 911 call used on the show can't be revealed for legal reasons.

She did say the show has two disclaimers at the beginning: "All of the 911 calls you’re about to hear are real," and "Callers’ names and certain details have been changed."

Harris admits "There's probably not much I can do about [the TV show] now," but Becky Harrin, an officer for the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, where the original call was recorded, is outraged at how "Outrageous 911" has played around with the truth.

"Seriously?" was Harrin's reaction when HuffPost contacted her. "I would think Harris would have serious issues with the changes."

Although 911 calls are public information once released to the media, Harrin said she wasn't allowed to release the call until Harris agreed to let it be disseminated to the media.

"We had to get his permission to release it," she said.

TLC is known for wacky reality shows, like "Sex Sent Me To The E.R.," that feature re-enactments of so-called true events with commentary by eyewitnesses or experts.

The fallen water buffalo clip isn't the the only time "Outrageous 911" dramatized a true-life call to the point where it verged on fiction.

The Oct. 22 episode had a segment featuring a man named "Rudy Frazier," who called 911 when a sub shop incorrectly made a turkey sandwich that was meant for his pregnant wife.

The 911 call was taken from a 2008 incident placed by Reginald Peterson, 42, who was angry when a Subway in Jacksonville, Florida, did not make sandwiches to his specifications, according to The Smoking Gun.

LISTEN: The original call can be heard by clicking here.

The original police report did not mention anything about Peterson's wife being pregnant. In addition, the sandwiches Peterson ordered were a spicy Italian with everything and a chicken breast, not turkey, according to Jacksonville.com.

TLC isn't the first to turn 911 misfortunes into reality-based comedy, of course. And those who do say the ethical lines are blurry.

Leland Gregory, author of the book, "What's the Number for 911?: America's Wackiest 911 Calls," says, "A lot of people who call 911 are either lonely or loony."

Still, you can't turn every tragedy into a comedy.

"It's not funny if an old dementia patient calls 911 because he thinks the helium balloon is a floating cat, or someone with a mental condition calls because they are sure that they are dying," Gregory told HuffPost. "By supplying a feasible, yet embellished scenario, to give a more legitimate reason for the call, it makes things entertaining as opposed to pitiful."

Still, Gregory, who has worked with Mike Mathis Productions, the production company responsible for "Outrageous 911," doesn't quite understand the company's need to embellish the already amusing water buffalo story.

"There's no reason to change the facts of that story, unless they didn't know all the facts," he said.

TLC claims it doesn't provide background information for "Outrageous 911," for "legal reasons."

HuffPost reached out to TLC and to Mike Mathis Productions. Both declined to comment, except to cite the disclaimers at the beginning of the show.

Meanwhile, Harris is still perplexed that his real-life pain was turned into entertainment.

"I feel a little bit violated, but I've learned to pick my battles," he said.

WATCH: The original news story (may not show up on mobile)

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