OCT 31 2006 LAKE FOREST, CA — Nikki Catsouras, 18, crashed her dad’s black Porsche Carerra 911 into a toll booth structure after clipping a Honda Civic on California State Route 241 near the Alton Parkway exit at a speed of over 100 mph. The impact instantly killed Nicole while her father — unable to locate her — was calling 9-1-1 for police assistance in getting the vehicle stopped. Nicole had sped off with the car without permission after an argument with her father over “teenage stuff.” Nikki and her dad argued the day before about Nikki sneaking a cigarette smoke in the house.
[PORSCHE PHOTO REMOVED — victim was never displayed in article]
Black Porsche Carerra 911 aftermath of Nikki Catsouras accident. Recovery workers had to upright the car before Nikki’s body was removed.
[HONDA PHOTO REMOVED — victim was never displayed in article]
The Honda Civic Nikki “clipped” sits on the median of the Foothill Trans Corridor (Route 241) with deployed air bag, destroyed right-rear wheel, destroyed right-rear fender, and a busted out rear window.
Gruesome photos of the accident scene have appeared on the Internet. The photos are apparently investigative photos that were somehow leaked out from the California Highway Patrol office in Orange County. Then cruelty began as anonymous people sent pictures back to Nikki’s family in e-mails. Nikki’s father — in the real estate business — even got an e-mail that masqueraded as a lead from Homegain.com. Inside the e-mail were graphic photos of Nikki’s body — mangled and decapitated. Text said “Dead girl walking” and “Oooh Daddy I’m alive.”
A full cyber-assault occurred with messages like:
“Her face broked [sic]”
“What a waste of a Porche [sic]”
Over 1,600 websites eventually posted pictures of the gruesome pictures of Nikki Catsouras as they ‘viraled’ out of control. A fake Myspace profile re-directed people to the gruesome photos. Michael Fertik, Chief Executive Officer of ReputationDefender™ was hired to help find out who is exploiting the photos and is getting them taken down — one-by-one.
Even locally at school, Nikki’s sisters were threatened that paper pictures would be posted on their lockers.
Nikki’s family is proceeding with a lawsuit, which will get a jury trial to determine if the California Highway Patrol must take responsibility for its employees’ conduct of releasing the graphic photos outside the agency — CHP has admitted to the Catsouras family that its dispatchers violated department policy by releasing the photos. Thomas O’Donnell is one of the dispatchers that allegedly released the photos. He claims he only e-mailed them to his own house.
Rex Paris (Dispatcher O’Donnell’s attorney): “They [law enforcement] have been distributing these photos to the public for over 70 years … I don’t know if ‘scared’ is the word you want to use [to have people view the photos and be scared to drive recklessly]. I think perhaps it’s to make certain you understand the catastrophic consequences of not driving responsibly.”
Nikki’s father, Cristos: “It’s not about how stupid and irresponsible Nikki was; it’s more about how stupid and irresponsible the California Highway Patrol were.”
The issues here?
Why are people so cruel to invade the grieving family with an assault of messages and the gruesome pictures?
Are they jealous of the wealth represented by the California family with a Porsche and “a spoiled brat that’s ‘not so pretty anymore.’ (as some cruel trolls wrote)” There are people that are insensitive who followed their urge to assault and taunt a family while it was down … grieving.
The pictures struck a nerve to satisfy a dark side where Nikki became a star — “the Porsche girl” in the underworld.
There are a group of people that believe the pictures serve a purpose to show the reality of the consequences of irresponsible driving — a deterrence.
No doubt, some people are angry that such a reckless act with a car can occur. It magnifies the threat to safety that many people witness regularly on roads across countries all over the world.
If Nikki would have killed an innocent family — or just one innocent person — on her last drive, there would be more talk about how selfish and irresponsible she was. And if she lived after she killed someone else, she would be facing jail. Just consider the story of Jeanette Sliwinski, a former model and exotic dancer, who slammed her car into another car in Niles, Illinois in July 2005. Although she claimed to be trying to attempt suicide, she killed three musicians in the car she hit: dead were John Glick, 35, Douglas Meis, 29 and Michael Dahlquist, 39. Police estimate Sliwinski was driving 87 miles per hour. She was charged by prosecutors with three counts of murder and faced life in prison. But on Monday, November 26 she was found guilty on reckless homicide charges with an 8-year prison sentence by Cook County Circuit Judge Garritt Howard in a Skokie, Illinois courtroom.
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