Edit - 5:20pm est: October 15, 2011 I hit a child with my car. The following account I wrote cathartically a week ago at night. I am editting some requested facts into the end:
The last thing I remember was excitement. I was excited about the night. I had tickets to a private screening of an Indie movie. The director was hosting the screening a club in downtown. I surprised my girlfriend with this as a great surprise date. I can remember getting into the car with her to drive to my parents’ house. We were supposed to meet them for dinner before driving down to the show. We were excited about dinner. We were excited about the show. We were excited. I was excited.
I remember pulling into my parents’ neighborhood. I remember turning to look at my girlfriend, smiling. I can remember the kids playing in the street. There were five of them. I can tell you where they were standing, and who was facing me. I can feel my foot ease to a slow rest on the break. I remember coming to a complete stop. I remember moving my foot back to gas pedal and the casual acceleration. I can still feel the small bump on my car. Later, I would liken it to feeling of getting rear-ended. It must be similar to the feeling of wearing a full suit of armor and having a rock thrown against your breastplate. You hear it and you feel it, but you do not actually feel it. In that moment it did not feel like a life-changing bump. In that moment the bump changed my life.
I remember exiting my car without turning the key from the ignition. I heard the screams of children. I hear the screams of children. I watched them drag a lifeless body from the side of the road onto the grass. Everything was silent except for screaming until I finally heard, “Sir, what is the nature of your emergency?” I heard myself say that a child has been struck by a motor vehicle. She asked me where the driver was.
“I am the driver.”
Kids are screaming. A small innocent child is lying in the grass. He is not breathing. My girlfriend is kneeling over him with her fingers on his neck. She shakes her head and looks up at me. Her face is painted in fear. “Sir, I need you to focus. What is your location?” I tell her where I am standing.
I look back to my car blocking traffic, still on. I ask my girlfriend to pull it off the road. Two women run out of the house. One runs straight for the child. She starts to blow into his open, blood-filled mouth. The other woman starts to wail. That is her mother. I could hear her wailing over the children, over the traffic, over my own heartbeat. A cop car comes squealing in. 911 has disconnected.
I remember feeling like my heart wasn’t even there. My hands were so cold. The officer pulled me to the side. He had me write a statement. I had to write what was happening. For me it was still happening.
Flash forward two weeks. The officer in charge of my case rules that I could not have seen the child and I have no charges placed against me. My parents, my wonderful girlfriend, everyone that's close to me reminds me that nothing was my fault, but it doesn't stop the "what if's:" What if we would have left later/earlier? What if I really wasn't watching the road, etc, etc.
I guess this is an AMA/cry for help, but has this ever happened to anyone else? How am I supposed to live with the guilt?
tl;dr - I hit a child with my car. qq And I need advice.
edit: this happened in October. I still have dreams/nightmares about it everyday. I don't know the state of the child to this day -- other than that he is probably alive.
Edit: 520pm est: There are some facts that people are asking for that I blatantly did not include in my original account: The child ran out from behind a car. He was 18 months old. The children playing with him were all 4 to 10 years old. I was never charged with anything, so the title is a bit confusing. My car was impounded for a couple weeks to have tests run on it. I also had the thought of being charged with involuntary manslaughter hanging over my head for those two weeks.. so when he called and told me otherwise, it was like being found innocent.
I don't know if the child is still alive, but when the officer talked to me those two weeks after the incident, he said that all he could tell me was that the child was in ICU, had been for two weeks, and things weren't getting better.
Also, I've been accused of making all this stuff up, so I could only think of one kind of verification, one of the pages from the police report. If you can think of anything else, let me know: http://imgur.com/aV2q