A popular and controversial YouTuber based in Toronto has admitted to lying about his girlfriend dying in a car accident in a video he posted last week.
Jason Ethier, better known as ImJayStation on YouTube to more than 5.4 million subscribers, published a lengthy video on Sunday admitting the entire thing was a ruse to gain more subscribers. In it, Ethier admitted his girlfriend, Alexia Marano, is very much alive and claimed that she's now "trying to ruin [his] life." He alleged that she had filed reports to police claiming she had been assaulted by Ethier and that police had issued a warrant for his arrest.
When reached, the Toronto Police Service told BuzzFeed News it has no arrest warrant on file for Ethier. It's unclear where the alleged police report was filed.
The drama began last Tuesday when the YouTuber announced in a now-deleted, monetized video that Marano had died after being hit by a drunk driver.
In the video, Ethier appears upset and seems to wipe away tears. He also recruited a friend to film him at a fake memorial site for Marano on the side of a road. He also mentioned her plans for their joint channel, Dream Team.
"Her dream was to get a million subscribers...and we were so close, you guys," he said in the video.
According to YouTube commentator channels and their screenshots, the initial fake video had racked up at least 800,000 views.
The video caused immediate suspicion within the YouTube community. User SomeOrdinaryGamers made a video where he recorded a phone call in which a Toronto police officer says the department has no record of death for anyone named Alexia Marano.
Then, later in the week, Ethier deleted that video and subsequent stunts (like one where he summons Marano using a Ouija board) — all of which were monetized — and published the admission.
“I thought of the idea of faking Alexia’s death and then doing a thing on YouTube thanking everyone and explaining to everyone it was just to gain traction,” he said.
Throughout his admission video, Ethier insists he should not be the only one to blame for the hoax. "By the way, [Marano] was down to make these videos with me," he said.
Ethier claimed Marano's parents had grown increasingly concerned after seeing the initial fake videos published and had threatened to go to the local news if the couple didn't come clean. He further claimed Marano had left him in the middle of the night, and she was nowhere to be reached.
In the comments of his video, he wrote he "fell in love with this girl, I tried helping her become famous on youtube, she left me without notice, and tried to ruin my life."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to both Ethier and Marano, but neither has returned a request for comment.
People were horrified at the admission.