Family's Nightmare: Daughter's Accident Photos Go Viral

With just a few mouse clicks, you can find pictures that are too graphic to show in the mainstream media -- images of horrible accidents, mutilations and death.

There's an Internet subculture devoted to death and gore with thousands of images, each bloodier than the next. For one family, an image that circulated on these types of Web sites added injury to already profound pain.

Nikki Catsouras was an 18-year-old college freshman living in California with her parents and two sisters. She loved to shoot videos on her camera, and ironically, it was a camera that would memorialize Nikki's life and death as a gruesome and macabre joke on the Internet.

It all started with a typical fight between parents and teenager when Nikki got caught sneaking a cigarette in the house.

"Nikki broke a house rule and we had a disagreement, and I took her car keys away," said Christos Catsouras, Nikki's father. Catsouras had no idea the next day would be the last time he'd ever see the daughter he called "Angel."

"As I was walking out the door, I kind of winked and blew her a kiss, and she winked back and flipped me a peace sign," he recalled. "I said, 'Bye, see you at two-thirty, love you. She said, 'Love you, bye.'"

Then, her family says, Nikki did something out of character. She took the keys to her father's Porsche 911 Carrera, a car that goes zero to 60 miles an hour in less than five seconds. She had never driven the Porsche before.

'The Whole World Is Seeing My Daughter'

According to state highway patrol reports, at approximately 1:45 p.m. last Halloween, Nikki Catsouras was traveling 100 mph on State Route 241, near Lake Forest, Calif., when she clipped another car and lost control, going across lanes over the median and slamming into a concrete tollbooth. She was killed instantly.

"Her head was more or less cut in two and sort of cleaved and then smashed. It's nothing that anyone should ever have to see," said Michael Fertik, the founder of ReputationDefender, a company that helps clients such as the Catsouras family remove items from the Internet. The Catsouras family was told they should never see the photos from the scene of the horrendous accident.

But as the Catsouras family was grieving for their daughter, the accident scene photos showing Nikki's mutilated body suddenly appeared on the Internet. "They didn't even let me see my daughter, and now the whole world is seeing my daughter," recalled Lesli Catsouras, Nikki's mother.

The family soon began receiving anonymous e-mails and text messages that contained photographs of the accident, including pictures of Nikki's decapitated body, still strapped to the crumpled remains of her father's Porsche. A fake MySpace page was created, which at first looked like a tribute to Catsouras but also led to the horrific photos.

"What type of individual would do that?" asked Christos Catsouras.

The pictures, taken by California Highway Patrol officers and e-mailed outside the department, became so persistent that Lesli Catsouras stopped checking her e-mail. Nikki's younger sisters were forbidden to use the Internet, and 16-year-old Danielle was taken out of school to be home schooled out of fear that her peers might confront her with the pictures.

The Catsouras family has filed a lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol for allegedly releasing the accident scene pictures.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
null
Danny Martindale/Getty Images
PHOTO: Woman who received lab-grown vagina says she now has normal life.
Metropolitan Autonomous University and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
PHOTO:
Redfin | Inset: David Livingston/Getty Images