Three other interpreters who almost made more news than the news itself

Published December 5 2017
Updated December 5 2017

Arguably the biggest news conference to come out of Tampa this year was nearly upstaged by someone who didn’t even utter a word.

While Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced the arrest Nov. 28 of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, suspected in the killing of four in Seminole Heights, the person assigned to translate for the deaf or hearing impaired issued messages that made little or no sense.

Derlyn Roberts "sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells," said Rachelle Settambrino, who is deaf and teaches ASL at the University of South Florida.

Settambrino said that according to interpreter Roberts, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan at one point said the following:

"Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22 (indecipherable) murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old (indecipherable) murder four five 55,000 plea 10 arrest murder bush (indecipherable) three age 24."

While Roberts’s attempts to communicate Dugan’s news may have caused more confusion than understanding, it’s not the first time an interpreter was subject of more chatter than the news itself.

Here are three examples:


A news conference to provide updates on Hurricane Irma in Manatee County quickly turned into a sideshow when the interpreter signed gibberish throughout, including one sentence: He also appeared to sign "pizza" and "bear monster" at one point.


As world leaders paid homage to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service in 2013, the man standing at arm’s length from them appeared to interpret their words in sign language. But advocates for the deaf say he was a faker. He "was moving his hands around, but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for," Bruno Druchen, national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, told the Associated Press.


As Hurricane Matthew ravaged South Carolina, one interpreter helped provide a little comic relief. Jason Hurdich was even credited for being a "rock star" by Gov. Nikki Haley for his efforts during her news conferences during the storm. "Not only do you have a major fanbase, but you have made your fellow South Carolinians very proud," Haley said.