Trigger warning: Some readers may find the following article distressing.
It’s been eight years and I still think about it every day. Sometimes for hours a day. Once you kill someone, life can never be the same again.
It happened on a bright sunny afternoon in late March, one of those unseasonably warm days that hints of the promise of summer to come. I was 28 and five months earlier I’d had my first child, a daughter, and I was just getting into the swing of motherhood after the hazy, sleep-starved first few months.
It was a Wednesday so my husband was at work, and I’d decided to take our daughter to the supermarket to get some bits for dinner, more as an activity to get us out of the house than any actual need.
This next bit is very hard to describe. And — perhaps this is the mind’s way of coping — I honestly can’t remember much of it. The sun was low in the sky, and as I drove off I remember flicking the sun visor down because it was so bright.
It was only a few minutes after I’d left the supermarket car park that I hit a pedestrian who was crossing the road. I remember braking hard, I remember his body hitting the windscreen, the shock of the impact reverberating around the car, the sound of smashing glass and someone screaming, which I quickly realised was me.
The next bit feels like a horror film. I turned my head to check on my daughter in the car seat behind me, before getting out and looking down at the man lying in the road.
All I remember was his grey hair and lots of blood. There were several people around my car, and a couple were already crouched down by the man’s head. There seemed to be people and cars surrounding me but I don’t remember much noise.
What must have only been moments later, a lady steered me to my daughter who I got out and walked away towards the back of my car. I felt like I was watching a film about my life and none of this was really happening. My hearing felt strange, as if I’d been plunged into water.
The ambulance seemed to arrive immediately, along with the police. I kept asking over and over how the man was, and one of the paramedics sat with me and my daughter in the back of an ambulance. I was like a zombie, but he helped me phone my husband. I couldn’t begin to think of how to say what had happened. I’ll never forget the look of sorrow and compassion on his face when he arrived.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene. I felt completely hollowed out and destroyed. My husband spoke to the police before taking me and my daughter home. There, I sat in a kitchen chair wailing, unable to hide my distress from my child. My sister came over so my husband could take me to the police station to give a statement. They treated me with kindness I didn’t feel I deserved, but wanted a level of detail I simply didn’t have. I remember endlessly repeating that it was my fault, and asking questions about the man who had died.
I was given an interim driving ban and sent home. There, despair enveloped me. A full stop was placed on what my life had been up until that point. I couldn’t think of anything other than the fact I had taken a life, and the unimaginable pain I had caused the victim and his family.
The days that followed are a blur of being catatonic or crying, while my husband did everything. Other than my family and best friend, people stayed away and I didn’t blame them.
The darkness that descended made me believe I had no right to go on living, and I felt a desperate wish to swap places with the man who had died. The story was in the local paper and online, and I was sickened to read my name but desperate to know about the man I had killed. He was in his 70s and left behind a wife, two children and grandchildren.
Weeks later at the inquest I pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. I hadn’t been drinking, I wasn’t speeding, and the driving conditions were difficult, but I didn’t want to carry on with my life the way it was. I wanted punishment — meaning prison — even though it would be torture to be separated from my husband and child.
The judge said that what happened had had an absolutely devastating effect on me, and that a prison sentence would not be appropriate, for reasons including the driving conditions and the fact I had a young child. You might expect some relief, but I felt a new wave of guilt. No verdict could change things, and my new life felt worse than any prison sentence.
I endlessly ask myself why this accident happened. I don’t believe in God, but for months I felt convinced it was karma, and that I somehow deserved what was happening. After the inquest I wanted to reach out to the victim’s family but knew this was probably selfish.
I’ve been in weekly counselling ever since, which has been a lifeline that’s helped me to process the trauma, guilt and responsibility. But eight years on I still feel my life is overshadowed by that one defining event. I often imagine my obituary as just a single line: ‘When she was 28 she killed a man.’
I’ve never met any other people who’ve been through anything similar, but I’ve read a lot about CADIs (Causing Accidental Death or Injury) online, which has helped me understand that I’m not alone. I’m still too sickened to google myself and see the headlines and doubt I ever will.
A couple of years after the accident we moved to a more rural town, so I do drive again now, but my anxiety often overwhelms me and I avoid driving when it’s sunny or dark.
I feel a guilt no words can describe. But whatever the trauma has robbed me of is nothing compared to the pain the victim’s family continue to endure. There is no easy path to peace for me, and I know there never will be.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and would like to talk to someone, visit Mind,
VSF supports Edo IDPs with COVID-19 palliatives
The Victims Support Fund (VSF) has supported the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and vulnerable Nigerians in Edo State with palliatives to help cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The VSF Team was led by the Chairperson of the VSF Task Force on COVID-19, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji who was in the company of the Edo State government that was ably represented by the wife of the Edo State Governor, Mrs Betsy Obaseki.
This comes as the country battles over 8700 cases of the respiratory illness that has affected economies across the globe, including that of Nigeria.
MyNigeria.com reports that the VSF palliative was in the form of 200 bags set that contained 10kg of rice, 10kg of beans, 10kg of garri, 4kg of vegetable oil and 2 small packets of salt per bag.
During the course of delivery of the items, additional bags of foodstuff were added to the initial amount by compassionate officials of VSF to the amazement IDPs Camp Uhogua.
Speaking on behalf of the management team of the camp, Coordinator of International Christian Centre (ICCM) and Coordinator of the Camp, Pastor Solomon Folorunsho said the VSF is Godsent for coming at this very critical time.
He said the lockdown caused by Covid-19 has impacted negatively on the welfare of the residents of the Camp.
The visit to the IDPs Camp Uhogua was a response to an “SOS correspondence they recently received from CSED (Community Sport and Educational Development)” and the VSF intends to visit most states in Nigeria.
According to reports, the current cost of preparing a meal for the four thousand five hundred and seventy-five residents of the Camp is about three hundred thousand naira.
National Coordinator of CSED, Mr Edema Fuludu said that they were forced to reach out to VSF and other bodies having seen the plight of the people, though the CSED work is mainly sport/educational intervention.
“We cannot afford to walk on by when the children/youths we work with are in dire needs of food and basic daily necessities,” Mr Fuludu said.
Mr Fuludu urged public-spirited individuals, corporate organisations and NGOs to continue to provide palliatives to the IDPs and other needy members of the society, as this is the only way they (vulnerable Nigerians) can survive the hunger and social isolation that has been induced by Covid-19.
He noted that “every effort put in touching the vulnerable in the society is the rent we pay to God for allowing us to live on planet earth.”
COVID-19 restrictions: FCTA shuts bars, arrests violators
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministerial Task-team on the Enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions has arrested eight persons, some of who impersonated army officers, for violating the 8 pm to 6 am curfew order by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The violators who were arrested at Kubwa and Dutse Alhaji Districts of the FCT are to be arraigned before the Mobile Court.
Some of those arrested were in drinking bars and gardens, while a tricycle operator and a commercial motorcyclist were arrested for operating during the curfew hours.
At Second Gate, Dutse-Alhaji, the team accosted the operator of a drinking bar who claimed to be a soldier but upon interrogation, he admitted that he lied in order to evade arrest.
He disclosed that he is a Chef who closes late from work and not military personnel as claimed.
At Dutse Makaranta, the team shut a beer parlour which was fully in operation a few minutes after 10 pm.
The manager of the place also claimed that it is owned by a serving Major in the Nigerian Army, saying they decided to operate into the curfew hours because of the occupation of the owner.
Addressing journalists after the night operation, Chairman of the Task Team, Ikharo Attah, however, noted that the compliance level in Kubwa and Dutse area is very high.
“Unlike Lugbe where we went a few days ago, most of the known nightclubs and bars in Kubwa and Dutse-Alhaji are closed. Vehicular movement is very few and made up largely of those on the exemption list,” he stated.
Attah decried “the level at which some residents of Dutse Alhaji and Makaranta parade themselves as military personnel even when they are not”.
He said; “The Chef claimed to be a soldier while the beer parlour Manager said the place belongs to a Major in the Army. This must stop forthwith. People should not drag the name and image of the military in the mud.”
The Task team Chairman also lamented that; “Despite the high level of compliance in these areas, very few persons still seem not to fully understand the purpose of the curfew.
Imagine the lady we met who claimed she was going to visit her friend after 9 pm during the curfew. Also surprising this night were the two bricklayers we caught who were returning from Bauchi state despite the interstate travel ban and were going home to Bwari town.
We still keep appealing to other Enforcement officers across the country to close ranks and halt the interstate travelling which seems to be going on massively despite the Presidential ban.”
Buhari congratulates Masari at 70
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the Katsina State Governor, Rt. Hon. Bello Masari, as he clocked 70.
The President, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, commended Governor Masari for his services to Nigeria over the years, especially his days as a federal legislator.
He also commended him for the investments that his administration had made into the Education sector in Katsina State, which had given particularly focus to the girl-child education.
“President Muhammadu Buhari warmly congratulates Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State on his 70th birthday, May 29, 2020, joining the State Executive Council, members of All Progressives Congress (APC) and citizens in celebrating the milestone.
“President Buhari affirms that Governor Masari, who served the country for many years as a legislator and rising to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, 2003-2007, has a remarkable and credible record of simplicity and humility in public service, with a proclivity for bringing harmony and stability into governance.
“The President commends the governor’s stride of revamping and repositioning the educational sector in Katsina State, with focus on the girl-child and almajiri, boosting infrastructure and health care services by initiating an upgrade and expansion of all General Hospitals, and other centres.
“President Buhari believes Governor Masari’s visionary and accommodating leadership style, wealth of experience and penchant for seeking greater good for his people and the country, greatly reflects on his recognition and achievements, and deserves commendation, especially his loyalty to the governing party and support for elected officials.
“The President felicitates with family members, friends and political associates of the governor on the auspicious occasion, praying that the almighty God will grant him longer life, good health and wisdom to keep serving his people and the country”, the statement said.
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