A Nashville-based influencer is speaking out after she received backlash for sharing photos from her motorcycle accident to Instagram.
In a post that she has since archived but that was captured by BuzzFeed News, Tiffany Mitchell shared a series of shots of herself in the moments after a motorcycle accident in Tennessee. In the photos, originally shared in July, Mitchell can be seen lying on the side of the road next to her bike and helmet as she’s tended to.
According to screenshots captured by BuzzFeed, Mitchell wrote in her caption that the accident was “unreal” and described being thrown off of her bike, leaving her scraped up.
“I misjudged a curve, took it too fast and my bike went off the road,” she explained in the caption. “It slid through the grass, and I hit the pavement. I had my helmet on so my head was fine, but I scraped up my left side. I was in absolute shock laying on the side of the road.”
She also wrote that she had lost a partner to a motorcycle accident three years ago.
The comments on the since archived post ranged from supportive to cynical, with some users questioning why she shared the pictures and even wondering if they were “staged.”
In a lengthy video posted to her Instagram Story on Monday, Mitchell addressed the controversy.
“There were a lot of things that people seemed concerned about, the motives and the reality of what happened,” she began. “I archived the post so you can’t see it on my feed anymore, because it was starting to get a little bit out of control … I just wanted to address those concerns because it’s very important to me; I don’t want anyone to be confused about any of it.”
In the clip, Mitchell explained she and her friends “had been shooting” photos earlier on the day of the accident and explained that one friend who was with her, named Lindsey, is known for documenting “everything” and “always has her camera with her.”
“When my bike went down, my friends were immediately at my side, including Lindsey, making sure that I was okay,” Mitchell explained. “No photos were taken until everyone knew that I was okay and I was resting … I was laying there processing everything and I didn’t know Lindsey was taking photos.”
According to BuzzFeed, Mitchell had also been accused of using the photos for a paid partnership, as a bottle of Smartwater was prominently placed in one of the snaps.
Mitchell denied any partnership with the company in her Instagram Story video. “The water — literally it could have been any brand — the water was brought to me because I was laying there, people wanted to make sure I was okay,” she said.
The influencer also rejected commenters who criticized her for not wearing her helmet at the time of accident, saying, “I absolutely had my helmet on, absolutely, one hundred percent. I would never ride my bike without my helmet.”
She explained that she had taken the helmet off after her fall from the motorcycle and advised her followers to take a motorcycle safety course if they were planing on getting a motorcycle license.
“I’m very sad this has all been taken as something that was staged and sponsored,” Mitchell told PEOPLE in a statement. “The reason this accident was so intense and important to me, and why I’m so grateful that my friend captured photos, is because three years ago on May 16, 2016, my partner Kappel passed away in a motorcycle accident.”
“I spent the majority of 2016-2017 walking through intense grief and sharing that journey through photos and captions on my Instagram page. It’s something the people who follow me understand the beauty and depth of, and when this happened and I ended up having photos to share, I wrote about the experience genuinely.”
She also clarified that there was “absolutely no sponsorship or staging whatsoever” adding that the post “was just another page in the story of life and healing.”
Mitchell ended her Instagram video by explaining that she was “grateful” that her friend Lindsey had taken the photos.
“Having a moment that was that intense documented, I appreciate that,” she said. “Not everyone has to, but I do and I think a lot of other people do.”
“This was a heavy moment for me that was scary and that meant a lot, and I had this treasure of having these images from it,” Mitchell added. “Nothing about it was staged. Nothing about it was a sponsorship.”