Instant Accidents


There are very few things that kill you immediately. An atlanto-occipital fracture. A brain-stem injury. The other things that Hollywood tells us are instant, gunshots or stab wounds to the chest or head: not so much after all

We performed an autopsy on a four-year-old who landed head-first under a truck.
His skull didn’t have to be opened. It wasn’t flat as one would think either. His liver was split in two, but he had no broken ribs. No broken bones. Massive blood loss. His kidneys and lungs were too pale.

There was little to see of his brain. I am trained to deal with that, but I cannot begin to imagine the shock for the truck driver. A truck driver who was wise enough to stop when he heard the awful crunch under his tires.

What we know is that the atlanto-occipital fracture and the severe brain injury killed him just about instantly – which is fortunate, because the liver laceration would have been a painful last minute.

What we don’t know is what a four-year-old was doing on a major roadway in the middle of the night. We don’t know where his mother is, or if she knows

That is not for us to know.

2 thoughts on “Instant Accidents

  1. What an absolutely horrible thing. I’m sorry that these things happen, and I’m sorry to that you had to be witness to it. Despite our training, horrific deaths such as these can still be very hard to deal with.

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