To know you are responsible for the death of another person can leave irreparable scars on your psyche.
"There's never a time, even when I'm laughing at a party, when I'm not thinking about it," Pam Uhr, a woman who was responsible for the deaths of two boys in a car accident, told The Guardian in 2018.
How would you expect your life to change after such a devastating event? How would you even go on?
After Redditor mfmisor asked the online community, "Redditors who have accidentally killed someone: How has it impacted your life?" people shared their stories.
Warning: Some sensitive material ahead.
"It was such a violent crash..."
It was a cold Friday morning on March 14 , 1997. My senior year in high school was coming to an end and all was right with my world. I was driving my 1988 Ford Bronco to my friend's house to pick him up before school. About a mile before his house a 70 year old woman and her 93 year old mother riding shotgun turned left in front of me from an unprotected green light. There was no chance to brake at all and I T-boned their Toyota Camry going 50 mph. The older woman died instantly the police said. It was such a violent crash that it sent their vehicle off the road and collided with a power pole. The driver suffered major injuries and sadly she died 3 days later.
After all the rumors and gossip which lasted until I graduated I was cleared of all wrong doing. The police determined that the driver was cited 2 times recently for driving without a DL. From what I understand her eyesight was quite poor and she must have not seen my truck. Thankfully I was wearing my seatbelt and only suffered a broken collarbone and bruises. Still very sad about what happened and it sometimes still haunts me to this day almost 25 years later.
"The day after I graduated..."
I got into an accident in high school when I was 17. T-boned a woman crossing a main road, she wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the car. She died three days later in the hospital.
I was charged for negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving (calculations showed I was doing 20 mph over the speed limit) . The day after I graduated high school I spent a month in prison. It's been 9 years and I still haven't bounced back completely.
"I have no regrets."
I guess technically I've helped to kill about 5 old ladies. It's kind of an unspoken agreement amongst the nursing staff that if someone hasn't moved, eaten, or had a drink in 4 days and their feet are mottled.....well......we make them comfortable. Morphine is always prescribed by then and we collectively ensure our patient is in as little pain as possible.
I have no regrets. I've even had a family member thank me for helping her mom.
"After the accident..."
When I was 16 I was going home from work late at night and needed to swing by the gas station. I was getting ready to make a left turn into the station and waited for a few motorcycles to pass and i looked down the road to clear the turn and saw a single light from a motorcycle about a mile away so I went ahead and made the turn. About halfway through the turn I saw the light getting brighter and noticed the guy was maybe 3 feet away from my car. That's when time began to slow down as I stomped on the gas to try to get out of the way. It was unfortunately too late as his body hit the side of my car completely shoving to the side. I got out and he just layed crushed in the street.
The gas station was very busy so a crowd immediately formed around the man and cops and ambulance came. He died a few hours later in the hospital.
After the accident I just sat on the side of the road thinking well im going to prison I just killed a dude, very much in shock and a bystander came up to me and said "do you see what you did!!? Go see what you did!" I wasn't really responsive at this time. After detectives came and talked to people i found out the guy was going well over 150mph on a bike trying to catch up to his friends and when I pulled out he didn't slow down but apparently ditched his bike and only his body hit my car. Turns out if he stayed on his bike he would have missed me completely. I was bothered for some time but have come to accept that this kind of crazy sh!t happens, just have to carry on.
"I used to be an airline pilot..."
I used to be an airline pilot for a relatively large regional airline. Because I didn't make much money doing it, I worked as a flight instructor on my days off from the airline.
One day a student of mine and I were up practicing some maneuvers over an area with a lot of trees.
As we were finishing up and about to go back to the airport, our engine started acting weird. It was a bit rough and we lost RPM. No big deal, I thought, I figured we were just running the mixture too lean, so I enriched it and had no improvement.
I started heading towards a field we passed a couple miles back. It wasn't big but it was our best shot if things got worse as the airport was something like 15 miles away.
The engine only got worse. I was having trouble maintaining altitude and I radioed in a mayday call with our position.
Eventually, the engine died completely. I tried a restart but nothing worked. As we were lining up our final approach, we made sure the airplane was secured and all that.
Turns out the field was a lot smaller than I thought. We touched down and it was extremely rough. I had a lot of pressure on the breaks, trying to not lock them. The trees were coming up very fast and I decided we weren't going to stop so I tried to get the airplane back on it's front wheels and slam on the breaks to make it flip so we could at least stop.
I thought about it too late and we smashed straight into a big tree. I can't remember very clearly getting out but I do remember seeing my student in the front seat slouched over with his head to the side. I tried to yell for him to get out and realized his eyes were open. The local police arrived within minutes of us touching down and later they said they saw us coming in.
They got my student out and took me to a hospital to be looked at and X-Ray'd because I had bad pain in my neck and back. They pronounced my student dead at the scene. His neck snapped on impact.
I didn't have any legal action taken against me or anything, the NTSB and FAA said that I did the right thing in the situation. I just wish I could've gotten the plane flipped over. I feel guilty. His wife blamed me and tried suing me.
I have extreme anxiety and don't fly anymore. I wish I could bring myself to do it because I truly loved it.
I work construction now because I have always loved building stuff and fixing up the house. I'm 36 years old now and have it on my bucket list to fly one last time.
"I think about it a lot..."
It wasn't my fault, but when I used to drive a wheelchair transport van, a bracket that holds the wheelchairs down failed. The guy tipped over enough to hit his head on a cross brace when I turned a corner. He had a degenerative disease, and had fragile bones. He ended up in the hospital, and never recovered. Passed a few days later.
The last I heard, the company that made the brackets ended up changing their design because the accident unveiled a flaw in their design.
I think about it a lot, because a person died who was in my care. I don't feel guilty about it or anything, There was nothing I could have done differently; something just broke. It's still a bummer when I think about it though.
"He blamed me for the accident..."
Not killed immediately, but turned into a quadriplegic, which is a death sentence for a 19 year old.
I was also 19 years old, driving a friend of mine around my hometown because he hadn't been there in years. He had moved out of state many years before. Was on a narrow country road, very hilly and windy. I am cresting the top of one hill, going a little faster than the speed limit, and a van comes up driving right down the center of that road. There's a steep embankment to the left, and a deep ditch to the right. I swerved to miss the van, realized I was going into a ditch, and swerved back. I ended up swerving completely around this van, and hit the embankment on the left. My car flipped down that hill seven times. I was wearing my seatbelt, but he wasn't. My side of the car was practically crushed, his barely had a dent. But because I was wearing my seatbelt, I just got glass embedded in my face and scalp, and messed up my left eye, shoulder and hip. Because he was not wearing his seatbelt, he broke his neck.
He blamed me for the accident, and for everything that happened to him, so I have not heard from him since it happened. I can only assume he's dead now, as the life expectancy of full quadriplegics is pretty low.
It's been 15 years, but no one gets in a vehicle that I am in without a seatbelt. Period.
"Not a lot has changed..."
Several years ago, I was driving on the interstate and a guy ahead of me's tire blew out, he panicked and spun out into my lane. I slammed into the passenger door and his teenage daughter was killed on impact. The other driver was deemed at fault, but I felt guilty. It took quite a bit of time and therapy, but I realize now that there's nothing I could have done-- it was just an accident.
Not a lot has changed, but I now give extra space whenever possible while driving.
I believe I've found..."
I believe I've found as much peace that I personally can find from the situation but there will always be lasting effects that I just need to learn how to work with.
"They'd be justified."
My best friend was a heroin addict. She kept begging me for money to "pay bills" or "court fees". Deep down inside I knew what it was for, and I felt bad saying no to her, even though I knew what it was doing to her.
I literally would lie awake at night every time I gave her money wondering if she would die that night.
One night I gave her money and a ride to the ghetto to buy. She bought more than she needed, sold to someone else, and they both died of an overdose that night.
As for how it's affected me, I'm a wreck. I still have nightmares. I went catatonic after it happened. I stopped eating, stopped leaving my house, had issues getting out of bed. I don't remember much from that time. Just darkness and despair.
Very few people know what actually happened that night. Some tell me that if it wasn't that night, it would have been another when I wasn't there. Others have told me that it's my fault she's dead.
I was diagnosed as having PTSD as a result of her death. That has not been easy to deal with.
Some days I wish someone would hurt me. Beat me within an inch of my life, maim me, kill me, anything. They'd be justified.
"Towards the end..."
I'm not sure if I'm responsible but I think I contributed to a family member dying.
8 years ago I was 22 and my mom asked me to stay with my grandpa and grandma for a few weeks to help watch them. My grandpa had just gotten out of the hospital and got the green light that his cancer was still gone.
However, as a precaution I was to help him walk around the house even with his cane that they gave him.
He was watching tv or something and had to get out of chair to get a drink. I told him I'd get it, and he insisted he could get it instead. I told him I was supposed to help him walk to the sink.
He denied he needed help, adamantly, and just told me to walk next to him. I was waiting by the couch maybe 6.5/7ft away. He was near me and stumbled/dropped his cane. He caught himself on the side of the couch and slowly lowered himself onto the floor.
My mom saw it and told him that he had to go to the hospital, per doctor's orders. He got into an argument about it, but it was too late, my mom had already called 9-1-1.
He was carted off to the hospital, fully aware and talking with the paramedics as easily as you talk with friends. The doctors took x-rays and noticed something in one of his lungs. They weren't sure so they wanted to figure out what it was, and ran some tests.
The tests were negative for anything that it could possibly be. He slowly got worse, they tried all sorts of medication and nothing stopped it, his lungs slowly faded over six or so weeks, the meds didn't even slow it down,
Every day for six weeks, my entire family including cousins, aunts, and uncles spent the day in the hospital. A few of my cousins couldn't bear to even go visit him because it was so heartbreaking to them.
Towards the end he couldn't even speak. When he was first admitted he was fine and optimistic, slowly though the realization of what was happening dawned on him. He didn't deny it, but rather accepted it. He said his final words to each of his children and grandchildren. Told his kids how wonderful they were and all his favorite moments with them.
His wife, my grandma, and his kids sat with him after the doctors told them they need to prepare for his death because it was very close.
I'd like to say he went peacefully and quietly, but he didn't. There was a death rattle which my mom said was "indescribable" his body lurched and his head rolled to the side, mouth agape.
I don't know if me helping him to get a drink would've made a difference. I was supposed to do a job for someone I loved, I didn't and now they're dead.
Before my career change I worked as a pharmacy technician through college. It was a good job for me, and since our pharmacy was only for nursing homes and mental institutions I didn't have to get a public facing job.
If anyone reading knows much about medication, you might recognize that Warfarin is A. A blood thinner B. Usually prescribed in very minute, exact dosages. Glove changes after handling were enforced pretty heavily. It really isn't one to play with.
So pretty typical day. I'm filling cassettes for I think 7 days and apparently misread one of my fill stickers. I didn't see that I was supposed to split 2 5mg tabs in half. (Before anyone makes the obvious point about 2 half tabs being the same as one full, I know. Some insurances will only pay for halves since it's cheaper. Silly, right?)
So by the nature of these weekly cassettes, you typically fill them over the course of the week along with other homes cassettes, and they all leave sometimes up to 4 days later. A day after that particular mistake went out the door, we have got a floor wide meeting with the owner of the pharmacy. A bit more exposition, but he was a very serious, very hotheaded man. We didn't get along well, all things considered. He's the only boss that ever openly threatened my job prior.
The meeting is as expected, very serious and informing of the mistake. He called a 'critical failure.' The tech responsible for the fill missed it, the pharmacist in charge of checking it missed it. The nurse in charge of administering missed it. He said the patient was rushed to the hospital, but it could've been alot worse and used this opportunity to make it clear that this type of mistake wouldn't be tolerated in the future. The rest of us were looking around, unsure about who the tech and pharmacist was.
As I was heading out to grab lunch, bossman grabs me and tells me we need to talk. The 'oh s***' alarm was going off pretty hard at this point. I step into his office and soon have a pharmacist sitting next to me.
Now for as aggressively angry as I've seen this man get, he was very calm and spoke very clearly. He explained that we were the 2 who made the mistakes. We messed up and he didn't want to single us out in front of everyone, which would have been a nicer sentiment if it hadn't been followed up with the patient dying in the hospital. It felt like a brick came off my chest and was replaced by a cinderblock. I didn't know the patient, never talked to him, didn't know was his conditions were, but I played apart in his death.
The coming days I tried to shake it off, but I couldn't be there long before I would think about it again. And again. And again. I ended up taking a few lunches with that pharmacist over the next couple weeks. He seemed to take it better than me, but it clearly affected him too. We both worked considerably slower, double checked ourselves constantly. It sucked. Work wasn't even close to enjoyable anymore and I'd end up hating myself as the days when I went home.
As this was happening I had some changes in my own life. Some I chose and some that just happened. Bad timing for sure, but it helped to push me out of pharmacy work for good, into a more hands on, bluecollar job. I still think of it from time to time, and it doesn't cut me like it used to, but I'd say the event helped me with an attention to detail on important matters. I oversee a mechanical shop, so I'm a bit of an ass when it comes to safety, but it comes from this experience.
I was the court appointed guardian for an old lady who lived on the top floor of a four story walk up after she had gotten drunk and left her water running until the fire department broke her door down to wake her up. All the people in her building wanted her out and I fought with them for about three years to keep her there, but I knew she should move since she could not walk up and down the stairs.
I managed to get her an apartment in a building with an elevator, but it was smaller and she hated it. No one wanted to rent to her so it had been very difficult to find a new place, but I promised her that we would keep looking and she could move when we found something better.
After about four months in the new apartment, I got a call from the hospital. She had fallen asleep while smoking a cigarette and it lit her blanket on fire. She was in the hospital unconscious with burns over 90% of her body and smoke inhalation. A friend of hers mentioned that because she had lived in and was used to her old apartment she would not have had the same problem. I've really felt like it was my fault ever since. If I had her moved into a hospital, or a nursing home she wouldn't have died.
"Not a single day goes by..."
I was in a car accident 12 years ago that killed a friend of mine. Not a single day goes by that I don't think about it. I have nightmares almost every night reliving it. It was just an accident, according to the police report I hydroplaned into an oncoming car. My friend was killed instantly. I had to move away from my hometown because of the harassment. I got death threats on an almost daily basis, as if I went out that night with the intention to kill someone. The "anniversary" was 4/28 and it was a rough one.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.