His screaming woke me. As always, he is in terrible pain; terrified and alone. His face is crushed and bloody. Covering my ears, I try to shut out his screaming. Stop! Stop! Stop!
As I shake the sleep from my mind, I realize I’m cold and wet. My body and the sheets are soaked with sweat – my sweat. Breathing hard and fast, I can’t catch my breath. My entire body is shaking. Then I realize the screams are mine and I relax a little; knowing the nightmare is over – for now. It’ll return, as it always does.
A restful night’s sleep is no longer possible for me. Although the terrible dream is gone, now that I’m awake, I know the torment of my slumber will be replaced by a living nightmare. I’m tormented day and night because of my actions. My heart is broken. I am burdened with guilt beyond any pain I’ve ever felt. A little boy is dead, and it’s all my fault.
⬦ ⬦ ⬦
There was no sympathy for me and my suffering. Posting bail didn’t help me at all. While awaiting my trial, I became a prisoner in my own home and had to close my cell phone account because of the hateful calls I was receiving. I was afraid to go out. Everybody was focused on the little boy and his family. I received death threats and was called a murderer. I quit accessing my Facebook account and stopped checking email. I’m still hated on social media. Before I went to prison, I was totally disconnected. Off the grid. Somebody spray painted hateful words on the front door of my parent’s home and on the hood of my car. In the middle of the night, someone threw a brick through the front window of my apartment. “Killer” was written on the brick. I had to quit my job as a server because nobody would sit in my section. I just stayed home, wishing I could change what I did.
A single day changed my entire life. It began like most other days. Running a little late, I flew out the door and dropped by a drive-in coffee bar for my morning jolt.
The night before, my BFF (Best Friend Forever) posted to Facebook that her boyfriend proposed. A few minutes later she called to ask if I’d be her maid of honor. I was going to be part of the wedding! We texted late into the night planning our dresses, shoes, and colors. I was so excited and felt very important.
The accident happened during a video conversation with my friend after pulling away from the drive-in window. I was on my way to work. We had been so excited about the wedding when texting the previous night, we completely forgot about planning the bachelorette party. Now was as good a time as any.
We were video chatting about the party when I heard a thump, and my SUV bounced up and down quickly. I looked up and realized I was driving in the dirt on the side of the road. I think they call it the shoulder. My car seemed okay, so I just steered back onto the road. I was so excited!
I was a little early for my shift at the restaurant, so I killed some time watching the big TV in the break room. The news was on, and a reporter was standing in a hospital waiting room talking to a police detective. Apparently, a little boy had gone out to check the mail, and somebody ran over him. That was terrible. The poor family.
A little later I was taking an order from a nice elderly couple when someone behind me said my name. I turned around and faced a serious-looking man in a suit who looked vaguely familiar. I responded with, “Yes? May I help you?”
He told me I was under arrest and mentioned a name I didn’t recognize. Then he said I had the right to remain silent, while a woman fastened my hands behind my back with handcuffs. I remember saying over and over, “This must be a mistake. I didn’t do anything wrong. Someone, please help me!”
When we arrived at the police station, they handcuffed me to a table in a small cold room. I was in there for a very long time, then the man and woman came in. The lady sat in front of me, and he stood against the wall. She began asking questions. Honestly believing I didn’t do anything wrong, I answered her questions. I can’t remember everything she asked, but I do recall her wanting to know why I left the scene of an accident. What scene? What accident? Was he the man I saw earlier on the news? It wasn’t very long before I realized they thought I was the person who ran over the little boy.
I asked for an attorney and was left in the room for a long time. A man I didn’t know came in and told me he would be representing me. He sat down and explained that I was the prime suspect in the death of a little boy named Tommy. The police informed him they had powerful evidence of my involvement. I told the attorney it was all a mistake. It had to be. I didn’t run over anyone.
How could this be happening to me? I was confused and scared. My world was falling apart, and I didn’t understand why. Dear Lord, why are they doing this to me?
I was looking at the attorney, listening to him saying something about charges, a trial, and the possibility of prison time. Prison time? Moments later my trembling hands began to shake uncontrollably. My stomach felt strange, like I’d swallowed a hot, heavy rock. I could no longer hear what the man was saying. His face went out of focus.
I woke up in some kind of medical facility. The ceiling was painted white with a beach poster pinned to it, directly above my head. People with white clothes were looking down on me, then everything went black, and my life descended into a blackness beyond imagination.
Many months later I was convicted of manslaughter. The little boy’s neighbor said he saw me swerve off the road and hit the child. He remembered some of the numbers on my license plate. Hair and tissue collected from my bumper and the underside of my SUV was a genetic match to the little boy. Paint from my car was found on his body. The accident investigator and the medical examiner testified there was conclusive evidence that he was crushed by my right front tire and thrown under the car. The tire’s tread pattern matched the tracks at the scene and on the body of the little boy. They said he was killed upon impact. Horrific photos of the accident scene were presented at my trial. Prosecutors also showed images from the little boy’s autopsy. Digital evidence was introduced to the jury proving I was engaged in a video conversation at the time of the accident. Even my BFF testified against me.
I will be living in this little jail cell for many years. There’s nobody that can help me now. It was my fault. My parents and driving instructor warned me about distracted driving and that I shouldn’t even touch or look at my cell phone while driving a car. I wished I would have listened. I believe Tommy would be alive today if I’d only followed the advice I was given.
My mother went to the little boy’s funeral. She said Tommy’s mother screamed and collapsed in tears across the top of the small coffin. His mother had to be carried out of the church. Mom told me some of Tommy’s family just stared like zombies, while most of the rest sobbed through the entire funeral.
That little boy will never grow up because of me. Tommy won’t ever play ball, drive a car, have kids, or go to work. He will never get to hug his mother ever again. I can’t believe what I’ve done. My family can’t believe it either. I thought I was a safe driver and was convinced I could use my cell phone and drive at the same time. I really believed I was important and the conversation with my friend couldn’t wait. I was so terribly wrong.
⬦ ⬦ ⬦
Best Friend Forever? My BFF disowned me after my arrest. That “Forever” wasn’t forever. It’s been replaced by other forevers. Tommy’s life is over forever. His family and friends won’t laugh and play with him anymore. They will miss him forever. My parents will be forever heartbroken for their daughter. I destroyed my life – FOREVER.
My life is a living nightmare. I’m afraid to go to sleep, because my dreams are even worse than the nightmares I live while awake. When I’m asleep Tommy’s looks at me and asks why I ran over him. He demands to know what was so important that I had to look at my phone. I don’t have an answer for him, because nothing was that important. Poor Tommy! I’m so sorry!
Please, God. I’m really not a bad person. Can Tommy and I have a do-over? Please…
A NOTE FROM STEVE FOWLER
I’m hopeful lives can be spared through the message contained in this fictional account. Preventable life-altering events involving distracted driving and cell phones occur daily on roads across our planet. Please assist in the effort to save lives by sharing this story with as many people as possible. Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, via email, in your classrooms and communities, and by any other method available to you.
This message is important for young and old alike. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just a young people problem. Every demographic is populated by individuals who discard common sense and let their mobile devices distract them while they are operating motor vehicles.
Automobile accidents are all too familiar for this author. I’ve assisted the injured and tried to comfort the dying, after horrific automobile accidents. I once comforted orphaned children after an oncoming vehicle crossed the centerline, killing eight, including their parents; who I tried to assist while waiting for first-responders to arrive. The distracted driving problem is real, it’s painful, and it can alter innocent lives FOREVER.
Steve Fowler is a blogger, safety and security professional, biographer, and professional ghostwriter. Steve is the author of SPY GAMES: Inside the Murky World of Corporate Espionage. He wrote “I Killed a Little Boy” in response to the growing distracted driving epidemic and has written a myriad of business-related articles. Steve and his wife, Tracey, reside in Oro Valley, Arizona. He is a member of Oro Valley’s “Writer’s Bloc” community.
© 2016 White Paper Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
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