Nice guesses everyone, but I found a copy of the article, and this occurs in an interior paragraph. This is not a case of a headline and the start of an article.
News reports use the present tense like "tells" when introducing breaking new information being presented in the news story. (And since headlines introduce breaking new information, they are written that way).
"He tells us that the woman is currently recovering (news item: stuff happening now). He also told us (some personal anecodote about his life that is not so much of a news item)."
Good English or not, it's the sort of style shifting one expects from this sort of news report. It's an example of the sort of thing of which it is a representative instance. :)