Warning!! Today's post is graphic.
Just my words, today, will make you squirm and feel nauseous.
You won't need actual images, though one of them will find its way here, a bit later on. But that's an Etch-a-Sketch compared to what I will write about.
This is the story of a young girl who took her dad's Porsche out for a joyride, possibly amped up on cocaine, and crashed it, killing herself in the process.
That sentence, alone, conjours up some not-so-pleasant images in the mind's eye.
But I can assure you that anything you're cooking up in your brain, even with the most vivid imagination, is child's play compared to the actual images captured from this horrific event.
Nikki Catsouras was an 18-year-old Orange County, CA girl who, in a fit of anger and defiance, took her father's Porsche and tooled it down the freeway at speeds upwards of 100 MPH. It was Halloween afternoon, 2006.
She clipped another car, lost control, and slammed the Porsche into a very unmoving toll booth.
What the impact did to her will make you lose your lunch.
She was decapitated, for all intents and purposes.
How's that mental image now?
Probably still nothing like the actual images, which were snapped at the scene by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers. They were among the most gruesome ever captured, in dead color.
The coroner, no less, refused to let Nikki's parents view the photos as part of identifying the body. That's how bad they were.
So the photos of Nikki Catsouras's body, described by one Internet commenter as looking like a "grenade went off in her face", and that you could only tell that it was her face because of "a row of teeth in the photo", were leaked by those two buffoon CHPs.
And, the Internet the way it is, they spread all over the Web like a fire in a balsa wood factory.
It gets worse.
The photos found their way into the "in" box of Nikki's father's e-mail account.
Under the guise of a real estate offer.
This story is making its way around the Net, so the odds are that this is the first you're reading about it is probably relatively slim.
Nikki's parents are suing the CHP, after other efforts to keep the photos from being posted on web sites proved fruitless.
The level of vitriol accompanying the photos is, frankly, almost as sickening as the images themselves. And that's saying something, believe me.
"Deserved to die."
"What a waste of a Porsche."
Nikki's family has sworn off the Internet. Her younger siblings are absolutely forbidden from Web browsing. They actually have NOT seen the photos of their sister's horrific death, and they're scared to death that even some innocent surfing may lead to accidental viewing of the photos.
Like what happened to their dad.
I Googled Nikki, and found three different things, basically: her pretty face, pre-accident; the car's wreckage; and, yeah, the gruesome stuff.
But the gruesome image was in the form of a thumbnail, and I could tell, despite its tiny size, that it wasn't anything I wanted to click on, full view.
I chickened out.
I didn't even know Nikki Catsouras, but I much prefer this photo of her:
The case is being played out, as we speak. The two CHP officers? One of them swears he only e-mailed the images to his own personal e-mail account. The other admits to e-mailing them to others, but as examples of the cautionary tales of driving under the influence.
Such graphic photos should remain sealed, forever, never to see the light of day. This isn't 1980, or even 1990. The Internet is as viral as ever, and I could post some horrific image right now and by the time you're done reading this, it will have been found and fired off to Lord knows how many people.
The crash scene
Now multiply that exponentially. In an hour? You'd be amazed.
Nikki's family? Man, I can't tell you how much I feel for them.
They say tragedy brings out the best in people.
Tell that to the Catsourases.
To read the entire story of Nikki's family's ordeal, here is the Newseek online version.