Fact Check

Was a Family Cited for a Viking Funeral on a California Lake?

Reports that a family got ticketed for burning a boat with a body in it originated from a hoax news site.

Published June 12, 2017

 (WikiMedia Commons)
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons
A California family was ticketed after holding a Viking funeral at a local lake.

In June 2017, an article from entertainment web site Nevada County Scooper (also called NC Scooper) about a family holding a viking funeral on a local California lake was mistaken by some readers as a genuine news item:

A local family from the Cascade Shores housing development is in hot water for attempting to cremate a deceased relative on Scotts Flat Lake earlier today. The Barstad family recently suffered the loss of the family’s patriarch, Norman Barstad, who had lived with the family at their Spanish Lane home. The senior Barstad, who was 92 years old when he passed last week, requested that he receive a full Viking burial on the water. The family agreed to his last wish. Unfortunately, neither the Nevada County Health Department nor the Sheriff (who answered numerous 9-1-1 phone calls) seemed to think this was a good idea.

This story originates from a site that has a history of publishing nothing but hoaxes and misinformation. The web site explains in its "manifesto" that its stories are intended to be read as satire:

The Scooper is a satirical website is in scope and intent. Sometimes it’s funny; often it is not. in scope and intent. It provides social criticism in a satirical, sometimes news-genre setting. We are not a “fake news” site, but rather an entertainment one. Sometimes it’s just plain-old crappy writing with a few bad jokes. Our intention is not to fool or trick anyone, but obviously it happens. We firmly believe that you can soften a person’s willingness to listen by injecting irony, and yes sometimes humor, into the conversation.

The image purportedly showing the "Viking funeral" is, naturally, faked. The original photograph, available via Wikipedia, simply shows the shoreline at the California lake:

NC Scooper also used this image (and this location) for the basis of another story reporting that a boy was attacked by a shark while taking a dip in the freshwater lake:

This story, like every other story on the site, was also fake.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.