to a tragedy that unfolded as viewers were watching on live television late this afternoon. A car chase, police in hot purr suit of a driver and then the driver taking his life. We are not going to... See More
to a tragedy that unfolded as viewers were watching on live television late this afternoon. A car chase, police in hot purr suit of a driver and then the driver taking his life. We are not going to show the moment, but here is what led up to it, and the debate that immediately followed. Here's abc's dan harris. Now he's off the freeway. Reporter: This afternoon, fox news was doing live coverage of a carjacking suspect fleeing iing police in phoenix. I'm just not sure about this. Reporter: As the man pulls over on a dirt road, the anchor, shepard smith, sounds wary. This makes me a little nervous, I got to tell you. Reporter: The suspect, on foot now, runs and stumbles -- gun in hand. It's always possible the guy could be on something. Reporter: At this point, we will pause the video, as the man ends his own life. On fox, however, they did not cut away in time. Get off it. Get off! Reporter: After a hastily-run commercial break -- an on-air apology. And we really messed up. And we're all very sorry. That didn't belong on tv. Reporter: It was a particularly disastrous ending to what has become near-daily fodder for cable and local news. From the o.J. Simpson slow-speed chase to the toddler bounced out of a moving suv. Police officials say live coverage of high speed chases is downright dangerous. These recent shots of bank robbers throwing cash out of a moving vehicle in l.A. Sent viewers flooding into the streets. You don't have to show it while it's live. Show it later, if you think there's some value to it. Just as much value on a ten-minute delay as there is seeing it live. Reporter: Broadcasters push back that live coverage provides real-time safety information. Running stop signs, running red lights. Reporter: And what's more, viewers want to watch these scenes, which is why this classic american spectacle is not likely to disappear from the airwaves any time soon. Dan harris, abc news, new york.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.