1. The Smell Is Something I’ll Never Forget
I used to work as an aide in a hospital in my early 20s. Patient was 21 years old had undiagnosed testicular cancer that was growing for 6 months prior to him coming to the hospital. The cancer metastasized into his gut and blood system. I performed care for him one morning with his entire family standing bedside, gut bloated from all the bile building up in his stomach. In the middle of adls he began to choke (common because of the bile build up) no big deal the nurse grabs the suction we had bedside and starts suction to clear out what we thought was a minor amount if bile.
As soon as she begins to suction the patient begins vomiting violently up more and more and more and starts to seize all while still choking. The bile in his stomach had gotten too full so the body attempted to remove the bile by pushing it back up the food tract. All the while the family is watching this event unfold.
We slam the code alarm and usher the family out of the room, no one needs to see their son choking like that. We tried everything we could to stop the bile from coming up as much. The amount of fluid and the smell is something I won’t ever forget. I watched a 21 year old patient go from cracking jokes to literally choking to death on his own vomit in a matter of minutes.
The worst part about it was about an hour or so later the mother of the patient came up to me, reeking of alcohol and hugged me and said she was sorry I had to witness that I was younger than him and it isn’t right. The mother of the dead patient apologized to me because her son died. I will never forget that day, those smells, the sounds, the picture is burned into my brain.
2. She’d Just Been Crossing The Street
I was walking down the street and I saw some people gathered in one spot. I went to see what the fuss was about, and there it was, on the street, the headless body of a woman. She had been crossing the street where she shouldn’t have been, was clipped by a car, lost her balance, fell and her head was run over by a truck that couldn’t avoid her. She was just lying there, bag still in hand, with her brains scattered all over.
3. Nature Wastes Nothing
One of Mama Doggie’s puppies dies. Mama Doggie proceeds to eat dead baby puppy with loud crunching noises. The horror.
4. Only Married Six Months
On a family trip when I was 12, I saw my step dad fall off a cliff at a state park. We weren’t climbing, rappelling or hiking, just walking around. He stepped on some wet moss, lost his footing, rolled to the edge of the slightly sloped cliff and rolled off, falling at least 60′. The paramedics said the fall didn’t kill him initially because he landed in a very shallow stream. He never lost consciousness and didn’t appear to have a head injury, however spinal damage was immediately evident because he had no feeling below the waist. We were in the middle of nowhere so it took a long time for an ambulance to get there – this was early 80s so no cell phones. He was taken to the nearest regional trauma center which was at least an hour away from where we were, then flown to a metropolitan area where he had emergency surgery to try to reduce damage to spine. He died of a pulmonary embolism 8 days after the fall. He and my mom had only been married for 6 months on the day he fell.
5. Only 2 Out Of 200 Helped
Saw an old man collapse on the ground and absolutely writhe in pain. I was in Japan and don’t speak the language well enough to get medical, it was a hot day so I ran to get water so I could cool him down. I don’t know what it was that killed him but he died then and there, within five minutes. I was one of only two people helping him in a square of 200 people.
I was fifteen. Seeing the man die scared me, but not as much as the realization that only two in hundreds of people stopped to help.
6. On A Death Penalty Jury
I was a juror on a multiple homicide death penalty case last year. Most of the killings took place in a small living room, and at one point in the trial they recreated the scene in a spare room in the courthouse. They had taken hi-res photos of the bloody floor at the original scene, then stitched those together and printed them out on a life-size sheet of canvas. Then they took the blood stained couches and chairs and the shattered TV and placed them in the original positions. Then had the jury walk through the scene to get a sense of the space and the shooting angles. The defendant was shaking and rocking in his seat, seeing that scene recreated. It was amazingly powerful and deeply disturbing, one of many traumatizing days in that five month trial. They offered all the jurors (and the court stenographer) counseling when the trial completed, and all of us were pretty seriously affected by the experience. I don’t recommend being on a death penalty jury.
7. A Terrible Fall
When I was 17 I was walking down a hall at work (aged care) and saw a guy fall flat on his face and bust his head open, blood came out like a hose. He died instantly. The sound of his head hitting the floor always stuck with me, didn’t traumatize me permanently but I’ll never forget it.
8. The Nanny
When I was a kid, maybe 10 or so, my friend and I were playing football in his front yard. Meanwhile, the nanny of a neighbor of ours was taking a walk with my neighbor’s baby in a carriage and their very large Great Dane. She thought, for some erroneous reason, that it would be a smart idea to tie the leash of the Great Dane to the baby carriage while she was strolling through the neighborhood. I saw her walking down the street and immediately thought about the consequences of this. So, she continues to walk by us, down the street and out of sight towards the cul-de-sac. We keep playing football and she comes back from the other direction, listening to her music, completely unaware of what was about to happen. Suddenly, the Great Dane stops and just stares down the street. There was a squirrel in the road. Next thing I know, this massive dog is flying down the street, dragging the baby carriage, which is now on its side with the baby in it. The nanny begins to freak out and she begins to chase the dog down the street. As she chases the dog, I see the baby fly out of the carriage and onto the road. My friend, Matt, and I stood there in complete shock, speechless. Then I say “Matt, call 911.” (We were at his house and this was during a simpler time when 10 year olds didn’t need a cellphone.) He doesn’t move. “MATT CALL 911.” He runs inside and calls 911, then gets his mom who thankfully was a nurse at the time. The ambulance, fire truck and police showed up to handle the situation. Thankfully, the baby was fine, only a few scratches and bruises. The nanny was fired.
9. The Disinterested Doctor
Not so much “witnessed” as “happened to me…” I had to have a trach tube put in temporarily when I was in the hospital (when I was fighting cancer). When the time finally came for it to be removed, the doctor who was there to do the removal seemed…less than interested in the whole thing. His whole attitude just screamed that he had somewhere better to be. So, when the time came to remove the trach tube, which is a traumatic enough experience, he pulled that sucker out like he was pull-starting a lawnmower. My eyes just about bugged out of my head, and it’s a moment that I’ll never forget.
In hindsight, it’s not even the most traumatic experience of that time, but it is one of the most memorable stories.
10. Car Accidents Seemed Different Afterward
When I was a kid, we had a house right on our town’s main road. It was very busy, with a lot of businesses. With all the comings and goings there were, of course, many car accidents.
One day, when I was about 12, there was an accident right in front of my house. I was playing in the yard, and when my mom rushes out to see if she can help anyone, I follow along. This dude had gotten rear ended pretty badly. My mom was talking to him and he seemed pretty shaken up but not hurt. He excused himself, saying he had to call his daughter because he was supposed to pick her up.
He is talking to her, and he’s laughing saying: “You’re going to kill me but I’m not gonna be able to pick you up for a while, someone rear ended me!”… “I’ll be there as soon as I can. I love you.”
Maybe two minutes later, the dude collapses right in front of me, maybe 10 feet away. Paramedics arrived very shortly after and the man is dead; probably from a heart attack, they tell my mom.
I never even look at accidents now, even when passing them on the highway. You may want to see what happened (no one can turn away from a trainwreck, etc.) but sometimes it’s best not to look.
11. The Explosion
I’m a journalist. A few years ago, I was sent to a small town where a trail had derailed. The train’s cargo was crude oil – the ensuing explosion killed 47 people.
The downtown area was blocked off, but you could catch glimpses of it. Just utter devastation. But worse was just talking to people – everyone had lost a loved one or a friend. Then the owner of the train company came to town to speak to investigators. He held a press conference outside and I will never forget the rage and pain on the faces of locals who had gathered to see the man they considered a murderer. It was heartbreaking and chilling all at the same time.
12. I Can Remember It Like It Was Yesterday
Saw a girl who I knew casually (she was a frequent customer of a place I worked at, a beautiful young woman) who was stabbed about 90 times and had her throat slit walk into the mall all bloody, her shirt and bra missing, and she saw me. She walked up to me trying to speak, then collapsed on a shoe display next to the restaurant I worked at (inside a mall obviously) and died right in front of me. She was looking right at me when the life went out of her eyes. It was the most awful thing I’ve ever seen. I was 16 then, I’m 55 now. Still can see it in my mind like it was yesterday.
13. Man’s Inhumanity To Man
It wasn’t the most gory/disgusting/shocking thing I’ve ever seen, but to me it was the saddest.
I was walking downtown, and there seemed to be something going on ahead, lots of honking. When I got there I saw a 20-something guy lying down in the middle of the street, blocking the cars. He was crying, obviously in some sort of mental distress.
People kept honking and yelling at him to move. At some point two guys got out of their car, grabbed him and tossed him on the side of the road. When the cars started moving again, the guy on the ground deliberately threw his legs under a car. One ran over his ankle and he screamed.
At this point I heard an ambulance making its way through the traffic. Someone had obviously called 911 before I’d gotten here, and help was finally coming.
That was about 12 years ago and I still think about that guy, how much pain he must have been in to just lie down in the middle of the street and get run over on purpose, and how the drivers kept just swearing at him, how they just fucking threw him on the side so they could get to whatever thing was so important they couldn’t wait a few more minutes for an ambulance to come.
14. A Heavy Weight For A Teenager
I was 15 at the time. Had gone to Guatemala to visit family. Right before the trip I was part of a EMT explorer class, similar to the police explorer programs.
Anyway we were at my cousins house in the ruralish country when we heard tires squeal and a Big Crunch. Then we saw a big group of people running up the street. Naturally we went to look too.
By the time we got there a cop was already on the scene. A car apparently hit a scooter. The rider was on the concrete. Head cracked open blood gushing. The cop literally stood over the body and started scolding the crowd saying “this is why you use helmets” when I got the urge to check his pulse. The cop was confused but I immediately yelled “HES STILL ALIVE! We need to get him to the hospital!” Suddenly a group of guys start to pick him up when I yell to stop so I could grab his head/neck. I’m getting blood and matter all over me. We lift him and put him in the back of the officers truck. The cop is visibly uncomfortable gets on the radio and says the ambulance is on its way and to take him down. So we do. We waited for what felt like an eternity. I said fuck it we have to go or he’ll die. So we put him back in the truck when the paramedics arrive. They do a once over, say he’s still alive, place a board under him and took over.
I walked back to the house covered in blood looking like a murder victim. My mom was confused then pissed off while crying the whole time. I washed up. An hour later a dude came up to me and shook my hand. It was his brother. He thanked me for giving his brother a chance but that he died just as they pulled into the hospital. It fucked me up to see it but also pissed me off that I wasn’t harsher on the cop to just drive. Maybe we could have saved him. Probably not. I’ll never forget it.
15. A Woman Lighting Herself On Fire
In Brussels, was driving home with my dad and uncle and saw a homeless woman try to kill herself by pouring white spirit over her and lighting it on fire. My dad saw it, pulled over the car so my uncle could get out and use the small fire extinguisher from the car to take out the fire. She was walking towards the car all lit up for a bit there and I was pretty young at the time (10ish). So yeah, couldn’t sleep for a while after that.
16. He Was Holding Her Hand When She Died
My dad picked me up from school one day…I think I was in the 10th grade. We got onto the interstate and after a few miles, this car comes flying by us.
We move into the other lane so we can exit the interstate onto another loop. This exit goes off the interstate and onto an overpass curve. You really do have to slow down while exiting. There are signs around, but most don’t listen.
Anyway, I saw the car exit and turned too wide going up the curve. It went right over the edge. We slowed down as we were exiting and pulled over to the side. My dad and I ran down the embankment to go help. A couple of other cars that were already on the loop had stopped as well.
The car was upside down and the trunk was wide open. I remember seeing beer cans all over the ground. The car was leaking the radiator fluid and water and whatever else they leak from the front. I remember the smell of it all.
The roof was caved in some and the seats were push up and mangled. The driver looked dead already. He didn’t appear to have a seat belt on, and he was just limp against the roof. His passenger, a lady, did have her seatbelt on, but was still pushed forward and in a pretty awkward position upside down.
My dad laid down on the ground and started talking to her. She was hysterical and he was trying to calm her down. She couldn’t feel anything, but she was conscious and knew she was upside down in a car that flipped over the side railing. My dad started to rub her head and hold her hand, kind of gently rubbing his thumb on the top of her hand.
I could hear sirens coming…and they arrived shortly after. They had to go around concrete barriers between the two different lane directions on the loop…so it took them longer to get to the accident.
When they arrived, they saw the man first and tried to help him. The firemen came around to the other side and talked to my dad. He told them he believe she had died maybe 2-3 minutes ago. He was still rubbing her hand at the time.
We stayed for a little while for him to answer questions from the police. The lady had a huge gash in her back from something that came through the seat…which we hadn’t noticed before. I could hear the paramedics saying they could see her spine and it looked like it was severed completely.
That lady dying right there in my dad’s hand is one of the most unnerving things I have ever seen. Cuts and bruises were all over her. That was pretty brutal.
It was in the paper a day or two later. The man had been drinking and they were in some argument.
17. A Dog Attack
A rabid Pitbull tearing my infant nephew’s face apart at a family barbecue.
Luckily the dog didn’t have actual rabies, it was just a victim of a bad owner and had several behavioral problems. The Pitbull had shown aggression towards multiple children in the neighborhood over a few months and its owner still failed to keep the dog on a leash, it had to be put down after the attack.
18. My Mom Thought A Nuclear Bomb Had Hit Us
The McMasterville explosion. An explosives plant a little over a mile from my home blew up right in my line of sight. I lived across the Richelieu River in Otterburn park on the side of a mountain. So I had an excellent high view of the explosion. The plant was slightly lowered into a pit so in case it ever did blow up it would not level the neighbouring town of Beloi. The energy from the explosion, instead of spreading outwards, was punched into the ground causing a huge tremor that knocked me off my feet. Several people died in the plant but miraculously no one around was killed by falling debris. My neighbour found a train wheel in his yard that weighed hundreds of pounds. He said it was glowing red when he found it and he sprayed it with a garden hose to keep it from setting fire to his yard. When I got in my house my mom was in a panic the Russians nuked Montreal. My dad figured out right away it was the dynamite plant. We all hopped in the family car and drove down to the river to watch it burn.
19. The Rope Swing
I was floating on an inner tube down a river with a ton of other friends and there was a rope swing off to the side that people were lining up for. This one woman tried to swing but couldn’t hold on and dropped headfirst into rocks right below. She basically shattered her skull and lied there twitching, convulsing, and making the most horrible choking on blood noises while a bunch of drunk guys tried to get her on a paddle board to get her across to the other side of the river where the road was so ambulances could get to her.
20. The Roommate
About a month ago, I found my best friend and roommate in our apartment having a seizure and covered in blood. All of that plus the look on his face will scar me for life. His eyes were cross-eyed and also rolled into the back on his head while he was being incoherent. He had a brain abscess that burst and he died of a brain infection.
21. Shot In The Head Over Money
I was 7-8 years old and I was with my mom in our town’s fish market, usually a small child holds on to mom’s hand so they don’t get kidnapped or lost but we somehow got separated and I just stayed near the one fishmonger who my mom kinda knew.
While waiting for mom I was watching two men argue over money and it started getting physical when one of the guys pulled a gun and (I’m not kidding) blew the other guy’s brains out. Brain matter, blood, random red bits were all over the floor. The fishmonger immediately grabbed me but I kept looking at the guy on the floor….he looked very similar to a fish out of water due to the way he stared at me plus his mouth was making a motion as if he was gasping for air.
Lots of screaming, someone grabbed the guy who was shot, loaded him into his tricycle (tuk tuk in some countries) then drove off. I told the fishmonger if he sees my mom to let her know I just walked home and he just let me go due to the ensuing chaos.
Mom didn’t even realized someone got shot near me until she got home and proceeded to scream at me for getting separated in the first place.
But yeah, getting shot in the head doesn’t seem to be the instant death I always believed it to be.
Watching a good friend get blown up about 15 feet away from me, getting knocked out for 5-10 seconds, and then having to do first aid on his femoral to keep him from dying while he was crying on the ground in front of me.
23. Drinking And Tubing
My uncle almost had his arm completely ripped off.
It was a very rough day on the water and we were out tubing. We had no business being out there. We were drinking, it was windy and rough.. Just all around bad decisions.
Anyway, the boat was pulling two tubes. They made a turn and my uncle hit a big wave while he also had some slack in one of the ropes. That rope found its way around his bicep and when the boat caught up and pulled the slack out, riiiiiiip.
His fat and muscle were hanging out. I puked. He had to have pretty crazy surgery to fix it.
24. Nothing Clearer In My Mind
In 2008 I watched a young Marine step on a pressure plate rigged to 2 82mm mortar shells. He had taken my position in our formation so he could stick with his fire team. One moment he’s thanking me and 5 half jog steps across an alleyway he was engulfed in an explosion. The aftermath was a controlled chaos of pulling him out of the exposed alleyway and beginning treatment, his leg was still partially attached through some muscle and skin so stumping it with a pressure dressing turned into also splinting the rest together. Thankfully he lived although now without half of one leg and a few fingers. I guess really the traumatic part for me wasn’t the sight of it but rather the afterwards, the few minutes from start to finish are a blur in my mind but when it was done and I had a moment to breath and see my arms covered in blood up to my elbows, Nothing has left a clearer image in my mind.
25. He Kept Moving
Watched a guy get hit in the head by large caliber rifle fire.
His skull split into two right above the eyes. Brains everywhere, blood gushing out, yet he kept breathing, opening and closing his mouth and sucking for air, like a fish. Sitting there with a great hole carved into the top of his head Occasionally his arm would flail. He stayed like that for an hour then stopped. I’m pretty sure he died a few minutes after being hit, but it was disturbing all the same.