really, what happened 3 years ago is not that mysterious–I spoke in person or over the phone with a bunch of people about it when it happened and also made detail-free mentions of it on FB and livejournal, but due to fear of litigation, I was advised not to discuss it in any forum that I might have my words quoted from and misrepresented.
Not long after I started feeling better as far as depression goes, I was driving to work bright and early one morning. I only live about 4-5 miles from where I was employed at the time and I had a counter-commute, so traffic was never heavy for me. On this particular September morning, there were no cars at all on the road headed the same way I was. I was approaching an intersection where I had the green light, so I did not slow down. At the intersection, there was a car on my side of the median stopped in the left turn lane. As I neared the intersection, a few feet from the crosswalk, a young blond woman ran out in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes as soon as I saw her, (at which point she was approximately 6-12 inches in front of my front bumper,) but I was too close and I hit her. She went flying, and I swerved into the right lane and stopped in the middle of the intersection. I called an ambulance and tried to check on the girl, but she wasn’t coherent yet. There were a bunch of people who had been waiting at the bus stop nearby who came over to help, and I left her in their hands while the dispatcher and I talked. I swear we talked for like an hour but my phone said it was 5 minutes and 20 seconds (which also seems ridiculously long considering that we were at the intersection RIGHT NEXT TO THE FIREHOUSE WHERE THE AMBULANCES LIVE and also I JUST HIT A PERSON WITH MY CAR, but certainly more reasonable.) The girl was crying for her mom and her sister, and when I got off with the dispatcher I called the number she gave me to tell them she had been hit. I got voicemail and left a message that basically said I had hit her sister with a car and what hospital she would be taken to and that I was sorry. I was sobbing at this point and wanted to go to the hospital with the girl but the cops wouldn’t let me.
I was lucky I already had an appointment set up with the school counseling center (though after this happened I had them bump it up) because I was absolutely destroyed. I took the day off work and came home but I was miserable not doing anything so I went to my grandparents’ house and spent the afternoon with my grandfather, who listened to me cry and tell him what happened and then told me lots of stories about his life to distract me. I would spontaneously burst into tears for months afterward. The girl’s family told my insurance company they’d sue me but they never had a lawyer contact me or my insurance company. My agent told me that they’d have up to 3 years to sue me, which is why I’ve waited to talk about it online. I flunked out of a class that semester because of how fucked up I was, (and because it never occurred to me to tell the teacher I was fucked up, or why, or that I was seeing someone in the counseling office, so she thought I was just blowing shit off all the time,) and nearly got kicked out of school because of it. My dad still apologizes when he makes jokes about how much pedestrians are worth. I still get nervous when I approach that intersection (from any direction) and anxious and angry when I see jaywalkers. I have (entirely controllable) urges to shout at them that they’re gonna get hurt someday and it’s their own damn fault and it’d destroy the person who ends up hitting them. Before my car got fixed (the hood was bashed in severely) the temptation was stronger, because I had proof of what damage jaywalking can do RIGHT THERE. “That dent is from a PERSON,” I wanted to scream at them.
She survived with a shattered right hip and some scrapes and bruises and possibly a concussion (she hit her head when she landed, I think.) I didn’t get sued. I hope she’s doing better, and doesn’t cross against the light anymore, and that she doesn’t let her friends do it either. I wish I had overslept that morning, or still been depressed enough to go in a little later (we had relatively flexible hours, I could go in anytime between 6 and 9 am–I just liked getting to go home before 4)
talking about it here made me cry a little, but it’s been long enough that I cried more typing that paragraph about Granddad.