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I live in India and a friend forwarded an article about Maryann on BBC to me today on Whatsapp. I was at first puzzled by the title and wondered why my friend forwarded it to me, why he thought I should see it. Because I had never told him about my experience.
It will be 3 years this May since I accidentally caused the death of a 28yr old boy, in the prime of his life, preparing to get married.
I live in a city that is overcrowded, has terrible roads, people disobeying traffic rules all the time, corrupt cops. I was driving home from work on a Friday evening and I decided to take the flyover. The flyover is a 6-lane highway where people always drive way beyond the speed limit and have drag races. The flyover covers a stretch of 5 kms and has no cameras or any way to regulate the traffic and speed of vehicles. The 3rd lane on both sides of the flyover acts as a shoulder one can stop on for emergencies, flat tires and such. However, people often stop on this 3rd lane to take pictures and selfies. This flyover has also seen many crazy accidents and deaths.
So on that evening, while driving home, I was driving on the 3rd lane (that has a maximum speed of 40kms/hr), going slow as I wasn’t feeling too good. And I decided to stop for 5 minutes. I switched on my hazard lamps and stopped. Several seconds passed with cars and bikes passing me in high speed. And then I heard this huge bang and felt a jerk and I couldn’t for a second understand what had happened. I was waiting for someone to walk up to my side of the window and start yelling at me. Still in a daze, I got out to see what had happened. A bike was stuck to the back of my car, its wheels spinning furiously, and just then it dislodged, spun around furiously and hit the side wall and came to a stop. I ran around the car to look for the biker. I saw his backpack lying a few feet in front of my car. But the biker was no where to be seen. By then a couple of people had stopped and were looking over the side of the wall on to the road about 50 feet below. It dawned on me then and with absolute trepidation I walked over and looked down. The biker had flown off his bike and fallen to the road below and was writhing in pain. It was terrible. I immediately called up my dad. The next day I found out the biker succumbed to his injuries. The days that followed were a daze of visits to the police station, hospital, cops interrogating me, curious friends coming over to hear the story. I barely got out of bed. The cops here don’t abide by the law. They are corrupt and only try to make money in cases such as this. They threatened us and the affected family. We got a lawyer involved who asked us to pay a certain amount for filing the case. He took the money and went to see the cops alone. I got the case sheet. For a year I would open the door for the post with my heart beating out of my chest expecting it to be a court summons. But we never heard back at all. And we realized that the cops had taken the money and hadn’t filed a case. A case wasn’t filed since the biker hit my car from behind. Traffic cameras at the previous signal show him to be speeding and zig zagging between cars. People told me of eye witnesses saying that the biker was speeding and driving at over 90kms/hr on the 40kms/hr lane and that he might have had alcohol in his system since it was a Friday night. I don’t know the details. But what haunts me to this day was that I was advised not to tell anyone that I had stopped, that I was driving slow when he hit. And that’s what’s in the report. Things were such a mess, on hindsight I now understand how we were duped by the cops and the lawyer.
We had never had any experience dealing with the cops before and didn’t know how the system worked. I am often haunted by those memories, things I should have done and should not have done. Thinking that if I hadn’t taken the flyover he would still be alive. If only I hadn’t stopped. I have toyed with the idea of reaching out to the family, offer my condolences. But things aren’t that civilized here. The lawyer asked me not to contact the family since they could sue me for wrongful death.
His death haunts me. I stalk his facebook profile and see comments posted by his friends and family and feel immense guilt. He seemed like such a sweet person and liked by everyone. I didn’t drive for a month after the accident. When I started driving I couldn’t help constantly glancing at my rearview mirror. Since that accident, it felt like I was jinxed. I experienced a couple of other instances where a truck driver drove into my car from behind at the traffic signal, distracted since he was busy drinking water (that was his excuse). Another incident where a car drove into mine from behind because the driver was busy texting.
It’s taken two years for the numb to wear off and the fear of driving to take complete hold. I avoid driving as much as possible now and am contemplating selling my car. I feel guilty surviving the accident. I know I could have been easily hurt as well, since the impact could have pushed my car to the speeding lane and I could have been severely injured too, if not dead. Giving up driving for good seems like the least of a tribute I could offer for Balaji (that was his name). I feel like I’m a menace on the road. With such volatile situations on the road, I never know what could happen. I’m terrified that I might cause another accident.
I have just listened to your broadcast on BBC Radio 4 world service. I am in Jakarta staying with my son and want to respond because it’s 20 years at the end of January since my husband killed a two year old boy in a car park. He had just collected my youngest son from Cub Scouts as He was pulling away in his car a little boy tripped and went under the wheels. A Friend alerted me and when I arrived at the scout hut he was trying to climb into the rubbish bin. He refused to have counselling, would never discuss it and died of oesophageal cancer in 2004. I have always believed that he died inside after the accident, he never forgave himself and his guilt/grief consumed him.
It’s taken 20 years to have a focus on the tragedy thanks to your story. Thank you. I hope others living through the nightmare of accidentally killing someone can take comfort in knowing they are not alone.
We have a support group comprised of some of the folks from the New Yorker article on Facebook if you search “accidental casualty survivors”. :::big hugs::: and lots of love to all of you!!! (I hope Maryann will allow this post.)
Thank you so much for doing this. Lots of requests for support groups come to me.
Today, September 18th I sent a long story email to Lisa that I hope she’ll put on her website, it could have been a story about a death from an accident that could been prevented in a local baseball stadium with an unsafe/unprotected seating area. I HOPE LISA WILL INCLUDE IT ON HER WEBSITE. There had been other falls over the years, I also almost fell years ago, I had only ever talked to stadium and team personnel about dangerous that seating is because it doesn’t prevent a spectator from falling forward and down onto the concrete walkway; which is what happened at a game on July 22nd this year, right in front of me. The woman’s head slammed down onto the concrete walkway, I thought she was dead, she didn’t move until her husband jumped down to be by her side. In the past, if I had done something more definitive, such as putting my concerns in written form, instead of assuming corrective action would be taken after talking to them; that woman would not have fallen, head-first down onto that concrete walkway. It’s been a constant replay in my mind and why did she have to go through something that could have resulted in a neck or brain injury, a severe concussion, or her death. I’ve been a “See something, say something” man all my life, now I’m a “See something, write something”, I no longer trust people in authority to to the right thing and I will never again trust anybody with what I believe is my own obligation and responsibility to look out for others; when I know it is the only choice I have to prevent injuries or even deaths. I’m now having to force The City and The Team, through legal action to protect that un-protected seating area; so that I can go into that stadium again without constantly looking around for someone about to fall and try to stop them. THE CITY OF NASHUA ( NH) AND THE TEAM (the Nashua Silver Knights) HAVE BANNED ME FROM THE STADIUM AND THEY’VE NOT TAKEN ANY ACTION TO MAKE THAT SEATING AREA SAFE FOR THEIR SPECTATORS; I’m a spectator. If any readers have had similar experiences, please write to me at “to_the_point@NetZero.Net” – Jerry Gutekunst
Just read the article in the New Yorker -“Accidental Killers” and googled Maryann Gray’s web site ( Accidental Impacts ). I am a truck driver for more than 30 years, and have seen too many really bad accidents. All the stories in the comments are heartbreaking and I hope everyone moves on the best they can with their lives. Perhaps Drivers Ed Classes could make these stories a part of their training in hopes that they will teach New Drivers how serious driving is. Hopefully with newer technology car & truck manufacturers will have devices that can prevent Accidental Impacts. Be Safe Everyone !
I was a member of a punk rock band from Maine. Our first DIY cross country tour ended tragically in August 1995. My story…
There was no alcohol. No drugs. It was early afternoon. we had stopped in the morning for gas and some snacks. Mike bought some Robitussin or some kind of cold meds because he had been sick; coughing up bright green phlegm over the last few days. We were all excited to get to Albuquerque. Lincoln, Nebraska had been a bust; and we were in need of a night out of the van. We had been taking turns driving. It was my turn. Brady rode shotgun. Cruising down the I25 freeway was beautiful. Coming down from the heights of Denver with the mountains behind us…. Misfits and Minor Threat blaring from the stock 1977 VW stereo speakers. the windows were down and Brady and I were talking about temperature… Brady saying that the cold was far superior to the warm weather because you could really FEEL the cold… I was siding with warmth because you didn’t even need to think about the weather when it’s warm outside…lazy logic. And we then slid into one of those long silences… Music playing, no words, looking over the vastness of the freeway, the bright sun and green grass along the freeway; road trips lend themselves to these long silences. Plenty of room for the mind to wander… to think… THUD! the van jumped and bounced as went from the smooth blacktop freeway to the soft grassy hillside running alongside it. I jerked up; suddenly realizing I had fallen asleep. My legs both slammed on the brake in tandem. too late. CRASH. STOP. We crashed into an embankment about 4 feet high. CRUSH. My face and ribs smashed hard into the hard plastic coated steering wheel of my VW bus. My head flew up. Brady had flown through the windshield. Punks like Brady don’t wear seatbelts. “Don’t tell me what to do”… Brady hit the ground about 10 feet or so in front of the van. And… incredibly… popped up on his feet and turned around like he was going to come back to the van. He then crumbled back down to the ground and (I assume) passed out. I immediately tried to get out of my seat and realized that the impact had crushed my legs between the front seat and the front of the van. VW buses are built with the motor in the rear of the vehicle, so the front of the vehicle is basic thin metal and electrical wiring for the brakes; and that’s about it… So I’m pinned there. And I’m screaming for Brady to wake up. I try to turn back; but all the gear had flown forward in the wreck. Steve was sleeping on the floor between the front seats and the back seats and Mike had been sprawled across the bench seat sleeping. Now; as I tried to look back, all I could see was amps and drums. No sign of anyone. I started yelling for Steve and Mike…. no answer. I start screaming HELP! I hear a voice of a woman in the distance. I think she said she was a truck driver. Mid forties, and built like a trucker, she came running through the tall grass with towels in her hand. She told me to hold one on my face. I looked down and there was blood everywhere. I had broken my nose in the crash; and I WAS a bleeder. I told her to help the others. to help get Brady and get Mike and Steve out of the back. She was running around trying to help. The doors to the van were jammed shut and she couldn’t open them, so she tended to Brady as the sounds of sirens grew louder. I kept screaming for Mike and Steve; but no answers. Suddenly a swarm of medics and firemen and police were everywhere. Walsenuburg, Colorado’s finest in action. They got Brady onto a gurney and carried him away. “WHERE ARE YOU TAKING HIM?” I screamed. “you are all going to the same hospital; it’s going to be fine…” A voice from somewhere tried to reassure me. suddenly, buzzsaws and grinding and heavy machinery as they forced their way into the pea green stomach of the bus to extract Steve and Mike. Quickly they were removing the amps, bundles of cords, drums and cymbals crashing as they worked through the pile. They grabbed the large amp that been lodged against the back of my head to remove it and as they pulled it; my whole head jerked back in that direction. the medic who had been tending to me, pulled me back. I saw him deftly pull a pair of pliers from his bag and he leaned my head forward. HOT FIRE. one of the metal corner caps from the amp had been lodged into the back of my head. When they pulled out the amp, the cap had been left sticking out of the back of my head. The medic yanked it out with his pliers; looked at it for a second; looked at me and then tossed it into the grass. I heard gargling and coughing. “STEVE! MIKE!” “they are going to be ok” the voice told me. “we are going to get you all to the hospital…. We need the jaws over here!” They brought the jaws of life around to the front of the van now to extract me, lastly, from the vehicle. I remember there being a cutting device on it like a large pneumatic pair of scissors as well as a giant pair of pliers that could either squeeze or expand to pull things apart. they worked quickly, cutting and pulling and squeezing and shifting the body of the VW like tinfoil. I looked down as they finally started to relieve the tightness on my legs. As the space opened i looked down and saw my shin bone flip forward and burst through my skin. I passed out. I awoke in the emergency room. Emergency rooms are incredibly hectic. noises and screaming and beeping and walkie talkies and police and doctors racing around. when I opened my my eyes I heard “One critical condition, two have numerous injuries and one was DOA.” two doctors right beside my bed. DOA? I sat up…. “WHO?!? TELL ME NOW!!!” calm voice “your friend Steve has a ruptured spleen and is going to require surgery; and Mr. Hodgkins” “HODSDON!” I interrupted, “BRADY HODSDON” “right; Brady dislocated his shoulder; but he’s going to be ok… You broke your nose and your tibia is” – “MIKE! What about Mike!” Calm voice-now suddenly female”I’m sorry, but your friend Mike didn’t make it.” “I NEED A PHONE! NOW!” Everything blurred, I called Claudette, my dad, my mom… I think others, but I don’t remember. they finally pulled me off the the phone and took me to be tended to by a doctor. I woke up alone in a hospital room.
I carry a tremendous amount of guilt with me. Mike is gone; and I am still here. I’ve been told that accidents happen. but nothing can take away the burden of knowing that your mistake ended someone’s life and affected so many people who you cared about so deeply. I struggle with this still; a daily battle even so many years later. I feel ashamed “liking” photos or memories that people post of Mike on Facebook. It’s really hard because I want to share in honoring him and keeping his memory alive.
I think about Mike every day. Every time I see that Dead Kennedy’s shirt I smile.
And whenever I see an ugly polyester shirt I think back to our long baked conversations about what punk rock really was; and how he totally understood what I was doing by not
succumbing to the pack mentality and looking like every other kid at the punk shows. Being me. And how he shared and later adopted the love of good, ugly polyester.
Mike Rabineau was a good friend. The world is less without him. Mike wanted to end the tour in California. Wanted to stay in Santa Monica or Venice and live on the beach with Claudette. I’m here in California today; 3,000 miles from home; thinking about Mike on his birthday. I miss him. Have a day, Mike. First beer is on me.
(some of these memories may not be exactly perfect, but that’s how I remember them.)
My name is Lisa and I was involved in a fatal accident that killed a bicyclist that rode out against traffic, I feel horrible yet somehow I have been able to manage, well at least I think I am managing, I am holding it together, I just wanted to find a support group that I can reach out to in my town. I live in Tucson, AZ and my accident was 5/2/16. This is the first time I am sharing my story and I thought I did everything right by calling the police and cooperating yet the person did not make it and I struggle with anxiety now and I am terrified to drive, yet I drove the next day. I work 70 hours a week thinking that maybe I can put what happen in a place I rarely think about and this is not working. Any ideas on how I can talk to someone like a support group?
I too was involved in a fatal accident. I have been searching for some kind of support group where I can at least be around others that have shared a similar experience. If you , or anyone else, has found any kind of support group specifically for CADIs, please share.
I came across this site by accident and was compelled to keep reading, wanting to honor each story and the courage it took to write about such pain and regret. Although I am grateful not ( but for the grace of God, go I) to have personally experienced the tragedy of fatally harming another, I am a licensed social worker and I use EMDR therapy with many people who have experienced similar (and other) trauma using EMDR .
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. (www.emdria.org/?120
It is an incredible healing treatment for severe pain and suffering, please pass on the information about EMDR, I have witnessed the healing impact of it as well as experienced it myself.
Please tell people about EMDR treatment, there are other trauma therapies as well such as Progressive Counting and Cognitive Processing Therapy that have also helped survivors deal with PTSD symptoms including intrusive thoughts and memories, negative self beliefs, guilt, shame, nightmares, etc.
I was involved in a fatal motorcycle crash two years ago. I was making an unprotected left turn on a stormy day and turned in front of a motorcycle. I wasn’t speeding or texting or purposely being distracted and I don’t know for sure why I didn’t see him. My fear is that I just didn’t look and turned left when the light turned green. There were a lot of variables involved (he wasn’t wearing an approved helmet, he had marijuana in his system, I never found out how much), but I do know that I unintentionally daydream and it could have been all my fault. I’ll never know for sure what I could have done to prevent the accident and I’m scared that if I ever drive again, I won’t be able to prevent another accident from happening. The accident haunts me every day and I feel strong guilt and sadness when I think about how much hurt his family has experienced and when I think about the loss of his life. I also feel extremely isolated because I don’t know any other CADIs and the people who know about the accident, like my parents, don’t want to talk about it. I’m also in my early 20s and not many people my age seem to understand that crashes happen even when you aren’t consciously making a bad decision. One of my fears is that no one will want to hire me for a job someday because I have Careless Driving Resulting in Death on my record and I don’t think people would love me or would want to be my friend if they knew I had caused another person’s death. I also haven’t quite decided if I deserve to be alone and unhappy because of what I’ve done or not. I’ve managed to get through the past two years ok but I still struggle with depression, anxiety, guilt, and isolation.
My name is Christine and I was involved in a horrible accident on 6/17/04. I killed my boyfriend at the time drinking and driving. He was on his motorcycle and I was in my car. He was stopped at a red light and I was going to fast and I tried to stop but I hit him from behind. My life has never been the same. I have so much guilt, so much sadness, so much anger, even to this day. I have been punishing myself for 11 years. My life was taken away to. Sometimes I wish I would have died to. This is the first time I have gone to sites like this. I didn’t know if they even exsisted. I made such a horrible mistake. I don’t think I will ever forget it.
My name I Michael and on September 2014 I killed my older brother in a car accident. We had been drinking that night and we slept two hours before heading back home. On our way home, I was driving on the freeway, my brother was sleeping in the back seat of my Honda Civic and did not have a seatbelt on. An exit before our home exit on the freeway there was a pile of cars ahead of me, but I did not see the accident as I had a big expedition in front of me blocking my view, then suddenly the expedition abruptly brakes and I did not have time to hit the brakes and I hit head on. Horrible impact, i was going pretty fast, my brother and I were taken to the hospital in separate ambulances and we never got to see each other, he suffered a cardiac arrest in the emergency room and died. I was sentenced to a year in county jail and charged with DUI Manslaughter. I know live with a huge guilt, I’m so unhappy, i lost friends, family, and now I’m starting to lose myself., I am 28 years old, and I have major depression, PTSD, anxiety, and horrible nightmares. I feel so guilty and I am not happy, I am angry, I’m sad, I don’t enjoy anything… I’m addicted to psych meds now, and alcohol. I don’t drive anymore, and I am miserable. I miss my brother so much. How could I have done something so irresponsible and stupid. I feel like I am not worthy of anything I dont deserve anything but pain. I cant move forward with my life, everything changed.
I keep telling myself life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain! I am still struggling every day with my pain. I have alot of issues. Me and my husband are separated now and I was really hurt by someone because of my issues. No one wants to be with me. I feel so alone. But I can’t give up. I have tried to kill myself several times. I have been through so much in my life and I don’t know why. I have just lost my job. But you have to keep your head up and try to be positive. I know that it is hard believe me. Your brother wouldn’t want you to live your life blaming yourself and being miserable. It was an accident, you didn’t do it on purpose. If you need me I’m here for you.
Hi Michael and Christine,
I feel immense grief and depression from having caused the death of a total stranger. I can’t even begin to imagine what the two of you must be going through.
2015 to 2017 have seen a series of mishaps in my life. My parents don’t like talking about the accident. I’ve been in several minor accidents following the one that caused the death of another person. I’ve begun feeling I’m jinxed. I don’t have anyone I could talk to. I pushed people away. My relationship, where I had a supportive and understanding partner, ended. I lost my job. I hit rock bottom. I started drinking a lot. Started smoking. But I slowly pulled myself back together. I’m getting back to normal now.
While what I went through is nothing compared to your experiences, I’d like to say take one day at a time. Patch up relationships. Talk to close friends and family honestly and tell them what you feel. Discuss the topic once and for all. Try distracting yourself. I found travel helped me. Mid last year I had given up on everything, I didn’t want to kill myself so I’d starve in the hopes that I’d just die. But around that time, I started travelling and it really helped.
Stay strong and take one day at a time.
hugs from India,
Dear Michael, of course there is nothing you can do to change the past, but there is a lot you can do to change the future. Hating yourself won’t do anyone any good. Consider dedicating yourself to helping others. There are so many people who are in pain, are hungry, are frightened and desperate. If you try, you can help someone and along the way, through helping others, maybe you can find peace. Things change and you can too. Start by being gentle and aware of your anger. Try to catch yourself before the anger takes over. You can do it Michael, it’s not too late.
I know how you feel Michael. I have been so miserable these past 13 years. I have tried killing myself several times. Just two days ago a good friend of mine killed himself. He had alot of people that cared about him. People do care about you. It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s learning how too dance in the rain. Your brother wouldn’t want you to live your life this way. It was an accident, you didn’t do it on purpose.
I was involved in a tragic accident in which an individual was killed on 6/23/2016. Every day sense then is been living in my head. I’m full of sadness and hopeless in thought. Today it’s been a week, I’m just now driving again. That is strange to me now. I’m in search of a support group in my area. I need help…
Blessed are those
whom are left to bare
the sorrow of it all…
I’m so sorry to hear about your accident. I was reading through the comments and immediately yours caught my attention. On exactly 6/23/2007. I was a driver in an accident that sadly involved a fatality. Even though it’s been over 9 years, there’s still never a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. But everyday you do get a little stronger. Just never never be afraid to reach out for help. Only now I’m August have I ever seen a therapist. It’s not weakness or shameful to get help.
Did you find a support group? It has been 3 months since my accident with a motorcyclist that did not survive
I know how you feel, because I was involved in an accident that the passenger in the other car was killed last Saturday morning, July 8. Everyday it seems harder for me to cope. I think about the other driver and their family every minute of the day.
This web page can be a stroll-through for all the info you wished about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you’ll undoubtedly discover it.
Thanks for this site. sometimes i dont know who to talk to, someone who will understand. it is not easy. i have a lot of anger in me. Why…why. i cannot turn back the hands of time. it happened, its not easy.
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