I just read a blurb for a sad news story: "Two EMTs are accused of ignoring a pregnant woman who collapsed and later died because they were on break."
The story is sad and disturbing, but the sentence structure suggests a preposterous connection. The woman did not collapse and die because the EMTs were on break, as the sentence implies. The EMTs ignored the woman because they were on break.
We can catch crazy sentence connections two ways: by proofreading aloud, and by letting our writing sit before we review and publish it. Both ways help us recognize the unintended meanings our sentences may communicate.
Because people who write the news must publish quickly, it is not surprising that odd sentences sneak through their editing process. Still, proofreading aloud should have caught "died because they were on break."
What do you think of this revision?
"Two EMTs are accused of ignoring a collapsed pregnant woman because they were on their break. The woman later died."
I tried to communicate the complete thought in one sentence, but the two sentences above are the best I could do using the language of the original. If you can construct a better revision for a news opener, please share it.