I killed Casey Mitchell.
She was run down by a speeding car on Birchwood Drive on May 3, 2001. There were no
witnesses. The police ruled it a hit and run.
It was me. I was there. I was hurrying home from work to catch a TV show. I was adjusting my
mirror as I drove and barely noticed that she was there until I heard the "thud" on the front
of my car. It could have happened to anyone.
By the time I realized what had happened, I was thirty yards down the road. I was faced with a
I could turn around and go back to see what I had hit. Or - I could keep driving. I was about
three-quarters of a mile from my house, and I was secretly hoping that I'd run over a
raccoon or maybe even a dog. A dog has a lot of emotional significance to some people, but
it's not their first-born son. Or daughter.
I scanned my periphery as quickly as I could. I was still going forty, forty-five miles an
hour down what was arguably a low-traffic suburban road. I couldn't see any cars within
visible range. I couldn't see any people, either, but that didn't mean that there weren't
I didn't know anything about crime. I still don't. Did driving away add leaving the scene of
the crime to vehicular homicide? Vehicular manslaughter. I repeated it in my head.
Not homicide. Manslaughter. Or petslaughter. Look on the bright side.
It's easy to make your decisions by inaction. You can kid yourself by pretending that just
ignoring it isn't a decision, but you're wrong. Of course it is. Every second I was several
feet further away from the site of the accident, and every foot made it harder and more
risky to turn back.
So I went home. Sometimes inaction is all that you have access to. It should be obvious by
this point that I didn't sleep that night. Or the next few nights.
Insomnia left me shaking in my bed, so I went down to the store at five-thirty and picked up
the early paper. I scanned it for news of any accidents, and I saw the headline. "Local girl
in critical condition after collision with car." My stomach dropped. My jaw dropped. I paid
for the paper and ran back to my car.
In the driver's seat. I read the article hurriedly. I skimmed the reactions of Casey's
family (Casey. She has a name. Casey.) and felt a pang of guilt at the happiness of
seeing "No witnesses could produce a reliable description of the vehicle."
I stood there breathing. I took a moment of perspective: It was five-thirty in the morning and
I was sitting in a dark car. The police were not after me. Nobody would blame me for
anything that happened. Nobody would even suspect me.
The dent in my fender is still there, although you can't notice it without taking a good
look. It doesn't have a shape reminiscent of an eleven-year-old girl, so the irony is
I'd like to apologize to her family. I'd like to apologize to her, wherever she is. It's not
fair to be cut down in your prime. You have the right to exist, and you certainly deserve it
more than I do. Casey, I'm sorry.