Rebecca Gayheart: ‘I had a very terrible accident happen. A 9-year-old child died’



In 2001, Rebecca Gayheart struck and killed a nine-year-old boy walking home from school when she failed to stop and passed around other cars which had stopped for him. (She states it was not a crosswalk as reported.) I just read the original People article about it and am sick to my stomach. Jorge Cruz Jr. was normally walked to and from school by his mother, but the day her son was killed she had to stay with her daughters at a clinic while they were being vaccinated. The little boy was struck and killed by Gayheart right outside his home. The people article reports “Instead of stopping, says the police account, Gayheart moved left into the turning lane, passed the other vehicles and struck Jorge Jr. directly across from his apartment building.” Gayheart paid $10,000 in funeral expenses and plead no contest to vehicular manslaughter, to which she received three years probation, a one year suspended license, and community service. She settled a lawsuit with the boy’s family out of court.

Rebecca was a guest on the Only One in The Room podcast where she talked about the accident for the first time since it happened. I listened to some of it after reading People’s recap because I wanted to see if she really did sound like she was painting herself as the victim of an accident. She did sound like that, however she gives details about the accident which, if true, make it sound like she’s less at fault. The host of the podcast, Laura Cathcart Robbins, frames it like something that happened to Rebecca too. She said “Rebecca was the driver of a car that was in the accident, and this accident resulted in the death of a nine-year-old year.” That talks starts at 12 minutes into the podcast and here’s what she said.

Can you tell us at all about the accident?
I had a very terrible accident happen. A nine-year-old child died. Everything changed from that. I still have trouble talking about it. That changed me. Luckily I came out the other side and really positive things have happened in my life since then. I still struggle with it. I still replay it in my head, ‘if I stopped at the gas station maybe I wouldn’t have been on that street.’ Those things never go away. They stay with you forever. I did not cope very well after. It took a year and a half… I just didn’t want to live after that. I spent a year just trying to kill myself basically, by doing every self destructive thing a person can do. I didn’t understand any of it. I had led sort of a charmed life up until then, even though I grew up dirt poor… I moved to NY… got a career going. It just turned my world upside down and I lost faith in everything. I questioned God, why me, why Jorge, why did something like this have to happen? I still have those questions, but today I am able to… realize that I deserve to be happy and that I am meant to be on this planet and that I have a purpose and I’m making living amends for that even though it was an accident.

She admits she passed other stopped cars but says she would have hit them if she stopped
I will say this right now, because this was the mistake that I made. If a car in front of you hits their brakes and they stop. You don’t go around them to avoid hitting them you hit them because there’s a reason they’re stopping. You can’t go around a car that stops abruptly in front of you because they’re stopping for a reason.

It was a soccer ball, he went chasing the soccer ball. All the cars screeched to a stop and you know. I know it’s an accident but you still go ‘I wish I would have stopped for that pack of cigarettes down the street’ or I wish I was smarter in the moment. I do not want to make this about me. I can’t imagine what his parents are still feeling like.

[From The Only One Podcast via People]

The host, Laura, also praised Rebecca for staying with the boy after she hit him, for going to the hospital afterwards and for taking responsibility. She also said that anyone could have done that. That’s true somewhat, a lot of people get distracted while driving and Rebecca wasn’t on her phone at least. The detail about the boy chasing the soccer ball is new, that was not in People’s 2001 report about the accident, but they did say that he loved soccer. After that Rebecca said that her community service work with homeless people helped her “come out the other side, because they had every terrible thing happen in their life.

I wish she would have framed this differently and taken more ownership of it, but if it happened the way she’s describing it makes more sense. This wasn’t some random thing that happened to her or something the car did though. She drove poorly and made a terrible decision in the spur of the moment that ended up costing a mother her child. I guess it’s much harder to say that you are so sorry and admit to yourself that you killed someone than it is to consider yourself the victim too. She came across somewhat better than I expected, but she’s very self-absorbed.

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Photos credit: WENN and via Instagram

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126 Responses to “Rebecca Gayheart: ‘I had a very terrible accident happen. A 9-year-old child died’”

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  1. jules says:

    I can’t imagine what his mother is feeling. I lost a sister in a car accident and the grief my mother feels and shows is still very present to this day. She passed 20 years ago. My heart goes out to the family. No parent should outlive a child.

    • jen says:

      @jules, sorry for your loss. And my first thought also was how does the boys family feel about her speaking out about this? I’m not sure of her intentions with all this. I do believe this took a toll on her, I also recall her wild days and she looks like she has aged really fast for hollywood.

      • Sojaschnitzel says:

        yeah, I was wondering about the poor parents aswell.

      • Some chick says:

        Not sure if aging or just not using fillers/botox.

        Mr Chick says he actually likes the vertical line between my brows – that it is like a bindi. I ain’t gonna bitch about that!

    • aang says:

      My brother died almost a year ago in a car accident. It was the first time I was glad my mother was dead because at least she died with her 4 children still alive. My dad on the other hand is just broken. It is heart breaking and as much as I miss my brother I can’t even imagine how my dad feels.

      • Kate says:

        I’m so so sorry aang

      • Snowflake says:

        Oh, I’m sorry, imo, it’s so much harder when it’s unexpected.

      • Angel says:

        I’m so sorry aang, I lost a brother and sister and I don’t think I’ll every feel better…

        Funeral Blues
        by W.H. Auden
        Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
        Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
        Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
        Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
        Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
        Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
        Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
        Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
        He was my North, my South, my East and West,
        My working week and my Sunday rest,
        My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
        I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
        The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
        Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
        Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
        For nothing now can ever come to any good.

    • Nancy says:

      I feel bad for everyone involved. Obviously more for the child and his parents. My daughter died 1 year ago this month. Her service on my fathers bday. Not planned but soonest could be done between finding her body police investigation and autopsy. He had passed before then. This has devastated me. Especially this month. Her bday may 28. I am sure mom and dad have felt and still feel the way I do. Especially on these “anniversaries “

  2. Wilady says:

    Killing a child would be freaking traumatic and she’s allowed to feel victim to her own mistakes, so I don’t fault her for feeling that way. It doesn’t take away the fact that the boy and his family are victims too, and my heart goes out to them.

    I feel like this kind of explains her crazy period in the early aughts with drugs and sex and alcohol, and hope she’s found healing since then.

    Also I think awareness that passing people like this is NOT OKAY AND AGAINST THE LAW is great to get out there. The number of times I have someone decide they don’t want to wait for someone turning or waiting so they pass on the right is terrible, and it’s just asking for confusion and possible tragedy on the road. Stop illegally passing because you are impatient, people. Thank you.

    • ME says:

      That’s not what happened. The person in front of her slammed on their brakes so she swerved her car to avoid hitting the car and ending up hitting that poor child. This was not a case of a person being impatient. Really the ultimate message her is NOT to tailgate. Leave enough room so that if someone suddenly slams on their brakes, you have enough room to stop.

      • K-Peace says:

        I remember this happening and i remember reading lots of articles that explained what happened, back when it occurred. And what they all said, and i think it was right from the police, was specifically that she drove around the cars simply because she was impatient & in a hurry. There was NEVER a mention of it happening because she was going around the car in front of her to avoid hitting it. So i don’t think i believe her version of events she’s telling here. I think she’s revising things to make what she did not sound so bad, and so she can say she too was a victim of this “accident”.

      • Wilady says:

        If that’s actually what happened, my apologies. Either way, people do that all the time and it drives. Me. Crazy. Someone could seriously get hurt or killed, including the driver.

        Either way I believe she would have never done it if she knew the aftermath of her actions, and she didn’t hunt down a child. Made a bad decision that changed many peoples lives forever that couldn’t be taken back, and I feel for everyone involved.

      • NataliePortmanteau says:

        K-Peace, that was my same understanding of the accident at the time. That she hastily passed the stopped cars using the left turn lane because she didn’t want to wait. Of course she wouldn’t have done it if she had seen the child, but she still broke the law and drove recklessly.

      • Kebbie says:

        I think it’s possible she’s re-writing history. It was always framed before as her intentionally going around the cars.

      • Enormous Coat says:

        I agree that her story sounds like revisionist history. Cars strike and kill pedestrians and bicyclists quite frequently in the US and the drivers are seldom punished. There’s a wealth of data out there and well researched articles. Her story doesn’t make sense to me. Other cars – plural not singular- are stopped, so to avoid hitting them, she goes around. She didn’t go around and come to a stop. If there were multiple cars, as stated, she could have stopped.
        Also, cars are stopped and the kid is chasing a ball? Cars are stopped. Multiple cars. They were stopped for a reason and the reason does not sound like a sudden one (eg child chasing a ball). Her story doesn’t make sense. And when stories don’t make sense, that’s usually because the story is a lie, in part or whole.
        I once saw a great ad in Ireland that said “Just because you use the road doesn’t mean you own it.” Cars and pedestrians and bicyslists all use the road and everyone has to be aware, but drivers must realize that they are operating heavy machinery that is capable of killing people. And when you strike and kill someone because you aren’t exercising proper caution, that’s a statutory crime. More of these cases need to be prosecuted in my opinion. They aren’t accidents.

      • Beezers says:

        I remember this accident, because it’s near to where I lived at the time. This is the first time I EVER heard or read that the car in front of her stopped abruptly. What I read and heard before was that cars were stopped at a light, and she didn’t want to wait to get into the left turn lane (because she might have had to sit through another light) so she went around them. It is basically a one lane each way street until you can get into the left turn lane. She was also speeding when she went around them. I’m sorry she feels bad (she should) but she shouldn’t try to change history to make herself look better.

      • Elizabeth1992 says:

        @ ME : I rear ended someone decades ago and convicted of careless driving. I was also rear ended when I stopped for the car ahead of me who was making a turn and I was rear ended by a truck that was behind me. I know from working in traffic court that it is the driver’s responsibility to stay far enough back from the car ahead so that they CAN stop in time even if the car ahead slams on their brakes. I know people follow too closely all the time but she is still responsible for the child’s death. I imagine that the guilt of killing this child was horrible for her but she was in the wrong.

    • tealily says:

      Yeah, I feel like one would almost have to frame it this way, at least to themselves, to avoid going crazy. I can’t imagine how it much feel to know that you accidentally killed a child.

      • STRIPE says:

        Agree. I almost hit someone once and really thought about what would have happened had I killed them. I truly think it would have been a titanic struggle to not just kill myself. I think any well meaning person would feel the same way.

        Whether or not the story went down EXACTLY as she says now or not, it was an accident. If she needs to think this way to keep herself healthy and alive, so be it.

    • maisie says:

      She should be like Matthew Broderick and Laura Bush: just STFU and not try to rewrite their incidents of vehicular manslaughter.

  3. Kate D Kack says:

    She got PROBATION for killing a child. I hate her. ZERO SYMPATHY. GO AWAY FOREVER.

    • The Dot says:

      It was an accident. She didn’t go hunting for someone to kill and she certainly didn’t say to herself, “Hmm don’t feel like stopping today, let me run that little kid there over.”m

      Someone gets a little fame or money, and all compassion and sympathy goes out the window. I’m gonna break some news here: famous people mess up too. It doesn’t make them all monsters.

      • olive says:

        if she couldn’t stop in time when the driver in front of her hit the breaks, that means she was tailgating or not following the recommend safe distance between cars, so it’s negligence, NOT an accident.

      • The Dot says:

        Olive

        I question where you’ve driven/seen cars driven. I live and drive daily in Washington DC. There is literally NO way to drive without following closer than most of us would like. When you leave even a hint of a car length in front of you, someone comes swooping around you to wedge in. So you can rant and rave up and down these comments about Rebecca’s negligence and it not being an accident, but you clearly don’t have an idea of what it’s like to drive in a congested city.

      • olive says:

        @TheDot i’m not naive, i know how people drive, but that everyone does it doesn’t make it any better. if people want to drive in an unsafe manner like that, then they just need to own the consequences of their decisions. THAT’S my problem here, drivers without accountability. if you hit and kill someone because you’re following too closely, people need to admit it and be honest about what they did, NOT try to brush it off as “an accident that happened to them” because “everyone drives like that.”

        that is a terrifying mindset that was created entirely by the automotive industry in the early 1900s.

      • megs283 says:

        @Thedot, then let them get in. I get it. I used to live and drive in DC and I now live in the Boston area and people seem to think that leaving a safe distance between me and the car in front of me is a big invitation to cut in. Oh well.

        Drivers can tailgate my ass and it’s not going to change how I drive. So they can pump their brakes and deal.

      • PleaseAndThankYou says:

        @thedot

        I’ve lived in DC my entire life – there’s no excuse for the way you’re driving. It’s drivers that think and act like you do that make our streets so dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists – and other drivers. Your impatience is NOT a legitimate reason to tailgate: just let them in. If you think that you’re too busy or too important to do so, I suggest you move to the suburbs. This is a city with an ever-increasing population… guess what? People often cut in because of drivers like you who block them from making a turn or merging. Learn how to live and drive (and WAIT) with other people around you. There’s also no need to own a car in DC, but since you choose to, follow the rules of the road or leave (or use the Metro, walk, bike, Uber, or Lyft).

      • The Dot says:

        Please and thank you, get over yourself. I, at no time, said I choose to tailgate or fail to let people merge. That’s your own assumption! I was speaking to other drivers who like to pass in dangerous conditions and swoop in any time there’s a car-sized space, thereby leaving you tailgating whether you intend to or no. Jesus.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      It was an accident. And instead of being so judgmental perhaps look at it like this: pray that you never find yourself in a situation like this. Because it could happen to anyone. And I’m sure in that moment you would not want people you think of you as a monster.
      Also – peope who DRIVE DRUNK and kill people get probation. I take far more issue with that than an accident

      • olive says:

        actually, it can only happen to drivers, so no, it can’t happen to EVERYONE. driving is not a universal experience, you can’t brush this off by acting like it “could happen” to everyone. also, the passive voice in “could happen” is bad, this was preventable and did not “happen to” rebecca, she caused it with her poor driving.

        if she hadn’t been tailgating and had been following the car in front of her at a safe distance, the child wouldn’t have died, but rebecca was impatient and NEGLIGENT in following too closely and she caused this. it wasn’t an accident. of course, it wasn’t on purpose, but it wasn’t an accident either, it was negligence.

      • BeanieBean says:

        If more than one car in my lane suddenly stop, I’m going to hit the brakes. Even if I were to swerve to the other lane to avoid hitting the car directly in front of me, I’m not going to hit the gas, I’m going to hit the brake. I think the police report had it right: she was in a hurry & swerved around the stopped cars.

    • AryasMum says:

      Laura Bush hit and killed another driver when she was a teenager. I don’t think she even got a slap on the hand. She ran a stop sign.

      • maisie says:

        Matthew Broderick killed/crippled a couple of people in Ireland, and I think he was DUI. Skated. But at least he doesn’t talk about it.

    • Clare says:

      Kate

      Maybe channel your outrage toward rapists who walk away with no punishment – because white and young. Or policemen who murder shoot/choke innocent people dead. How about politicians who continue to kowtow to the NRA?

      This woman was involved in an accident in which her poor decision led to a child’s death. Nothing about this case indicates that she intended to or knowingly harmed that child.

    • Nikki says:

      Really Kate, what good would it have done for her to go to jail for 20 years? It wouldn’t have brought the kid back for a single second. Living with the knowledge that you killed an innocent child is a terrible, terrible lifelong burden. The internet tries and convicts people with very little mercy or compassion, and your comment is typical of what I’ve seen. I pray you never make a momentary mistake, pay for it the rest of your life in terrible guilt and remorse, and have strangers hating on you.

      • josephine says:

        But that’s true in any situation in which someone was killed — no sentence can bring someone back to life – so that’s not a compelling argument.

        My issue with her interview is two-fold. First, she can’t truly take responsibility for this accident, and that’s too bad – it might haunt her less if she took responsibility and it might help the family of the child she killed. I also just don’t believe her new spin on it. Second, and not her fault, but had this been someone else behind the wheel, I think the sentence would have been harsher and I think the public view would have been harsher. While you claim that the public is harder on her because she is a celebrity, I think we all might stop to think what would have happened had a man been involved, or a younger person, or an older person, or a minority, all of which are more harshly accused when it comes to driving too quickly or too dangerously.

  4. kacy says:

    I’ve known a couple of people who have killed people behind the wheel. One was at fault the other not. It was a terrible thing for both people. They became terribly depressed. People in this situation have a to find a way to go on. Her talking about her pain will help them.

    • Sophie says:

      I know someone, too. And it was a similar situation to this one: they hit and killed a child who ran out into the street.

  5. Renee says:

    I didn’t feel as much remorse from her words as I would have liked to hear (and more importantly Jorge’s family would have liked to hear).

  6. teehee says:

    I think shes only trying to relate, that it hurt her too and she struggled with what happened, which is not necessarily so self-absorbed— she cannot speak for the mother and I dot think she should dare try to either. There’s not a great way to frame it. At the same time, time marches on. That’s just the cold truth of life- you can’t stay in mourning forever.

  7. Valiantly Varnished says:

    After reading what she said I don’t think she’s not taking responsibility. I think she is talking about the aftermath of what taking a life – even in an accident- can do to someone. After the accident that was when she got involved with drugs, etc. so I think she felt a huge amount of guilt and took it out on herself.
    Here’s the thing: literally NOTHING she says will what happened better. This child is gone. His parents will live with this forever. There are no words that will fix that. She took responsibility in the moment – and that’s saying a LOT. She paid for the child’s funeral and she settled with his family. Actions speak louder than words.

    • Amanduh says:

      I take issue with, “ …I had a terrible accident happen.” when she in fact, *caused* the accident. Not intentionally…but it didn’t happen *to* her, it happened *because of* her.

      • Lady D says:

        Me too, Amanduh. Her way of not taking responsibility for her actions. Not, ‘I caused a terrible accident’ but, I had a terrible accident. It takes the blame off her without her saying the words, ‘not my fault.’

  8. The Dot says:

    It was an accident, and it could have happened to anyone. Should she have hit the car in front of her, as she says? Yes, knowing what we know now, of course she should have. But it was a split second! My brother was in an accident a few years ago. Didn’t want to hit the car in front of him (he drives a massive, massive truck) so he tried to go around, ended up hitting the side of a mountain head-on. He’s had all kinds of back and knee problems and he probably wishes he had just hit the car too. It’s just, in the moment, you never know what all the repercussions of a split second decision will be.

    One thing my dad always drilled into me growing up was, “Hit the deer. Hit the squirrel. Don’t swerve to avoid because you’re going to cause a huge accident.” And I still struggle with that at 35! I can easily see how this happened, and I don’t think she’s making it all about her.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Thank you. People are acting like this couldn’t happen to them and I find that to be quite interesting. It was a split second wrong decision that has reverberated through an wntire family’s and her life. And yes – it COULD happen to anyone.

    • Mgsota says:

      That’s what I’ve told my daughter, not to swerve but to hit the animal etc. But when something darts out in front of me, my first reaction is to try to avoid it. It’s very hard to train your brain not to swerve, especially if you’re about to hit a car.

    • AryasMum says:

      But sometimes hitting a deer can kill you.

      • The Dot says:

        Yes, it can. But his advice was intended to minimize any danger to myself and those I share the road with. Jerking over into another lane or crossing the median to avoid a deer is going to cause much more of a pile up, leading to propert damage, injury to myself or others, and loss of life.

        I mean…jerking the car into an occupied lane and then being hit by that car and the cars behind it seems a lot more risky that just hitting the damn deer.

      • AryasMum says:

        True. I just come from the Midwest with stories of people dying in car versus deer situations, so that’s where my mind goes.

      • Smalltowngirl says:

        Aryasmum same and here it is moose and you are probably better off hitting another car over a Moose.

      • PleaseAndThankYou says:

        Hitting a deer will kill you. Straight up through the windshield, instantly. About 4 kids I went to high school with died in this awful, pointless manner – two while they were on their way to school.

        Never swerve for small animals – but a deer? Swerve. You’re more likely to die if you don’t, and, generally (always), deer don’t dart out in front of multiple cars/traffic, that’s incredibly atypical behavior, so the idea you would cause a pile-up while avoiding the deer is laughable. Brake hard, and swerve, or you likely will be crushed to death.

        Agreed that it’s the same as with a moose (obviously the moose is an even more horrifying situation).

      • Snowflake says:

        Idk about that. My mom hit a deer once, the vehicle was totaled but she was unhurt. I swerved to avoid hitting an animal one time, jerked the wheel too hard, lost control, and hit a telephone pole. Thank God it was the passenger side that hit the pole and i was the only one in the car. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, depends on a lot of factors. Size of the animal, if there’s a car in the other lane, etc. Etc.

    • lucy2 says:

      A few years ago, I had a 11-12 year old kid chase her skateboard into the road right in front of me. Thankfully I was going slowly and able to screech to a halt, otherwise I would have hit her. She and her friend, both old enough to know better than to run into traffic, laughed and ran off. I nearly had a heart attack and can still remember the panic.

      Whatever happened, I do feel badly for Rebecca having to live with that, I imagine it’s pretty horrible. I do wish she’d right off the bat said her pain was nothing compared to his family’s though. She did say something along those lines, but not until the end.

    • HK9 says:

      You Father is right. I was driving one day, I hit a squirrel who ran out in front of me and didn’t swerve so I didn’t his other cars. I STILL feel bad about that….I cannot imagine if that was a human being. I can still hear the thud in my head of the squirrel hitting the wheels of my car…..this is no joke.

    • stephanie says:

      A small child, no more than 3 years old bolted in front of my truck from his driveway last week and crossed the street to the other side. He began to run down the street to an oblivious grandma who was checking the neighborhood mailbox a few houses down. I was shocked to look around and see no adults watching him but I know that kids can move fast and slip out in a matter of seconds through an open door.

      I drive like a snail through neighboorhoods (I often don’t even go 25mph). Especially when I have my dogs in the car, can’t make sudden turns or slam on the brakes otherise they go flying off their seat in the truck.

      I didnt have to screech to a halt / slam on my brakes cuz I was probably going 15 – 20 mph but it startled the hell out of me to see a toddler run into the street right in front of my big truck.

      People in a rush can get pissed at me all they want but I drive slow in residential neighborhoods and I think people who go even 1 mile over 25mph in a residential area where children live and play are assholes.

      • dlc says:

        Agreed. It freaks me out when I see people fly thru parking lots. You cannot see small children between parked cars and they can be in front of you in an instant!

  9. Jb says:

    I remember when I read about this happening and really couldn’t believe she did no jail time. As I gotten older I try to think well what if it had been me?? Ugh I can’t imagine the guilt she felt and probably still feels. Obviously she didn’t set out to hit him and I know it was an accident but I can’t feel too bad for her especially since a little boy lost his life…just a sad situation. I don’t think I’d be able to drive again after that….I’m getting depressed thinking about this but will remind myself to always be careful when I drive, so many bad things can happen in a split second and I need to be more vigilant

    • aang says:

      When my husband was 16 he was walking next to his best friend on a busy road with no sidewalks, it was dark. His friend was on the outside and a car drifted onto the shoulder and hit and killed his friend. The driver was not charged. I don’t know if he even got a ticket. My husband is now always on super high alert when our kids walk or bike anywhere, makes them carry lights when they walk at night.

      • Spicecake38 says:

        Aang I remember when you posted last year about losing your brother,my sympathies to you and your family.What happened to your husbands’ friend is terrible,I think you and your husband are so right to have your kids carry a light if they walk or bike in the dark,I can attest to having almost hit people who walk and aren’t easily seen because of dark clothing/dark outside.We take walks as a family,so I’ll be more vigilant about light clothing/reflective wear,etc.

        Jb,like you said – I’ll just be more vigilant when I drive too,I was pretty irritable driving home today behind the slowest driver who was swerving ,he was either old and or impaired,I still don’t know,but I couldn’t pass him had people behind me ,ugh- but I’m going to remember to be patient.What Rebecca did was wrong a mistake, an accident ,but the boy can’t be brought back,so I’d like to think that her speaking about this terrible situation will hopefully cause people to be more careful and patient on the road. I would rather be a slow driver than to live with the aftermath of causing harm.

  10. ChillyWilly says:

    The whole comment about ” being on this planet for a reason irks me. So little Jorge
    WASN’T on this planet for a reason? Is that why he died and she didn’t? No, he died because she was driving recklessly.
    I don’t think she is a monster. Lord knows I probably was the same kind of driver when I was young, but she does come off as very self involved.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      I think you are misinterpreting what she said. She is talking about how after the accident she was basically trying to kill herself and that it took her awhile to realize that she deserved to be alive and her life has meaning. That doesn’t mean Jorge’s didn’t. Context matters.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        I understand the context. I just don’t like comments like this. I also don’t appreciate survivors of tornados saying they are ” blesssd” or “God was looking out for me” What about the people who did die? They were not blessed? God wasn’t looking out for them because they were less important? It’s very narcissistic IMO and it irks me.

      • Nikki says:

        Valiantly Varnished, I appreciate all your comments on this. You have compassion, and are eloquent in stating things.

    • DS9 says:

      What else should someone who wants to die after doing something so terrible tell themselves?

      This is not self involvement. It’s self preservation.

      Of course Jorge’s life has meaning but he’s gone. She’s still here and has to keep herself breathing.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        She could say she is lucky to be alive. She is thankful to be alive.

      • The Dot says:

        Chilly

        Have you been in this situation before? I think most of us haven’t been, and are therefore wholly unqualified to shred apart her words and feelings. It seems to me you’re more interested in finding SOMETHING to blame her for than listening to what she says and what her intent in saying it was.

    • tuille says:

      Recklessly, chillywilly? Not necessarily. She swerved to into a left turn lane to avoid rear-ending the car in front. which had suddenly stopped. She hit Jorge, who was walking / running after his soccer ball.
      Could she see him through or around the car in front of her? No.
      Was she using her cell phone? No.
      Could she have been going slower? Yes. Was she cited for speeding? No.
      Could she have allowed more distance between her car & the one in front? Probably.
      Do you ever drive closer to the car in front of you than 1 car length per 10 mph of speed? Probably. (30 mph means staying back 45 feet.)
      Do you ever driven the speed limit when it may have been advisable to drive more slowly? Probably?
      It was a terrible accident which cost a child his life & causes his family everlasting grief. Could it have happened to you? Probably.
      Safe stopping distance per CA DMV handbook is one car length (yours) for every 10 mph. Average car is ~15 feet long, Going 40 mph, stay 60 feet (20 yards or 1/5th of a football field) behind the car in front of you.

      • Lady D says:

        We were taught to stay two seconds behind the car in front. Wait for the car in front to pass a landmark or road sign or pothole and count one one thousand, two one thousand. You should be passing the same landmark. If you pass it sooner, you’re too close and need to slow down. In winter they suggest four seconds between you and the car in front of you, five seconds if you’re on the highway.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Pitchforks? That’s a stretch. I stated my opinion on what she chose to say during an interview she chose to participate in and talk about the accident. I mean, she has had 20 years to think about how to speak about this in a way that is sensitive to this child’s still grieving family. Have you lost a child, V.V.? My mom has and let me tell you, the grief NEVER ends and I doubt Jorge ‘s parents appreciate Rebecca giving interviews that will end up on gossip sites to further her career. She never should have talked about it in public. It will get back to the parents and reopen very deep wounds.

    • Steph says:

      When I read this today, I assumed that was young when it happened, but she wasn’t. She was 29.

    • Snowflake says:

      It’s how people justify to themselves why they were spared. Helps them not to feel so guilty about being alive while others died. And people who believe in God believe their destiny is determined by him, so if they’re still alive, it’s because God allowed them to be. And if something bad happened, it helps them to believe there’s a reason, that it’s not just some cruel twist of fate., it’s God’s will. It’s people’s way of coping, they’re not saying other people deserved to die, c’mon!

  11. AryasMum says:

    I guess I’m a little skeptical about her version of the story. I just don’t see her going twenty years with people thinking she’s done something so horrible, when her story makes it seem like she was just worried about the person in front of her. Seems a little too convenient. And has the soccer ball ever been mentioned before? And was it a cross walk as previously described?

    • tealily says:

      Yeah, I question the “hitting the car in front of her” thing too, but I really do think she’s found a way to justify her actions to herself for her own sanity’s sake. I don’t fault her for doing that, whether it’s strictly true or not. She may not have even done it intentionally. It was a long time ago now, and it was a horrific incident.

    • lucy2 says:

      If she went into a self-destructive mode, maybe it’s taken a long time for her to process everything and finally speak on it.
      Or maybe she’s not being 100% truthful, I don’t know.

    • olive says:

      exactly, she’s still not taking any accountability for this!! “Rebecca was the driver of a car that was in an accident…”?! that’s some totally passive, distancing language for something she caused.
      rebecca, you negligently drove your car into a child and killed him. stop using passive tone and distancing yourself from it, just say what happened if you’re going to talk about it. be honest.

  12. Sarah_UK says:

    From what I’ve read about it, and of course I don’t know anymore than most, it seems as though she saw the cars were stopping in her lane and so changed into the other lane in order to avoid them and keep moving without really looking properly at why they had stopped. I should imagine you would just think it was a traffic jam or something and wouldn’t immediately consider a child had run into the road – I do not intend to make excuses for her but we make so many car journeys these days that we become somewhat complacent as she had probably done the same lane-hopping manoeuvre hundreds of times without incident.

    I just felt that reading this latest interview she was very general and trying to say all of the “right” things without actually saying anything? I don’t think anyone would want to admit that they were just in a rush or feeling impatient when this was the consequence. I think maybe this is really what makes the guilt feel worse – that you know you weren’t driving with the consideration you should have been.

    • Elizabeth1992 says:

      @ Sarah_UK : I agree that I would have wondered why the other cars were stopping. I remember driving home from work on a side road and seeing a minivan two cars ahead of me swerve to the left towards the dividing line. I moved slightly to the left too as I thought maybe he was swerving to avoid hitting something on the side of the road. It turns out he was drunk and seconds later crossed the centre line and collided head on with a truck. I saw him being loaded into the ambulance so I think he survived. The truck driver was okay too (it was a “big rig” with no trailer) but he was scared out of his wits. He said he almost lost control of his rig. So no, she didn’t mean it and it was an accident. But yes, it was her lack of defensive driving that caused the death.

  13. sassafras says:

    I was almost hit by a teenager who was swerving to avoid a squirrel. I was walking on a bend in the road – I could see her eyes on the squirrel. She swerved. I jumped into a ditch.

    Hit the godd*amn squirrel. Or car.

    And if Gayheart sounds self-absorbed, let’s remember that they invited her on this podcast to… talk about herself.

  14. launicaangelina says:

    It was an accident. My sister died as a result of an undiagnosed blood clot in her brain. Back in the 60s, my 10 month old sister was sitting in my mom’s lay. The car in front of her braked for an animal and sister hit her head on the steering wheel. One month later, she died from the blood clot, which formed as a result of the accident. My mom has forgiven herself and the other driver. I didn’t know my sister as I was born in the 80s.

    A former coworker of mine once told me a story of a classmate kicking another kid’s chair out from under him as he was sitting down, as a joke, and the other kid fell a certain way that paralyzed him.

    • tealily says:

      Wow, what terrible stories. I’m sorry for your family’s loss. Sometimes terrible, sad things just happen.

  15. Rebekah says:

    I don’t think it’s impossible to have compassion for Jorge, his family, and for Rebecca. Sympathy is not a zero sum game, and suffering isn’t a contest.

  16. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    If she’s a decent human, she’s punished herself for 18 years and will continue the rest of her life. That boy’s family will grieve the rest of their lives. No apology will lighten anyone’s pain, hell, she hasn’t publicaly spoken about it. One thing I know for certain is that shit accidents don’t target specific people…we’re all standing in the accident line waiting for our number to be called.

  17. olive says:

    it was not an accident, it was negligence on her part. accidents are not preventable – this was. she should’ve hit the breaks and waited in traffic like the driver in front of her, but she was too entitled for that and thought she was too special to wait, so she killed a boy. referring to it as an “accident” is just rebecca continuing to soften the blow of what she actually did.

    we have a sick driving culture in the US that makes any excuse for drivers and does not properly protect pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. if they’re on foot, a person’s death is so often brushed off as an accident when it was actually negligence and the driver walks away scot-free instead of being punished.

    • Nikki says:

      Olive, have you ever made any momentary mistake driving, and said, “Whew, I’m sure glad no one was there then!” ? I don’t see how it’s possible to never have made a momentary error. I once had a cake on the seat next to me start sliding off the plate. I looked down for a second, and when I looked up, I was on the wrong side of the road. I shook to think I could’ve killed someone. She wasn’t speeding, wasn’t texting: she was driving too close to the car in front of her, swerved to the left lane to avoid hitting them, and killed the boy. She has been punished plenty: a lifetime of guilt and regret, forever knowing the damage 2 seconds of her life has wrought. I don’t think it’s scot free. Do I wish people were in less of a hurry? You bet, but I can still have compassion for the nightmare she’s lived, and even more for the nightmare of the poor child’s family.

      • olive says:

        actually, i don’t have a driver’s license and i do not drive. i hate driving and was never good at it so i gave it up rather than continue to drive and risk hurting someone. i’m not the person to relate to in that way.

      • NicoleInSavannah says:

        No offense, Olive, but there are so many things in life that could put you in a horrible situation. If you need some understanding at that point, remember your careless words. This was 18 years ago and that’s a long time to live with this and I know I’d think of killing myself daily. I was raped and still think of hurting myself ever single day. I also don’t drive but that doesn’t negate me from horrible shit.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        But Rebecca disobeyed the laws of the road which caused the death of a child. What about people who drive around a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and kill a kid? Is that also an accident? I don’t think it is.

      • olive says:

        @NicoleInSavannah obviously that’s a given, but i’m not having a conversation about the various things in life can put people in horrible situations here, i’m having a conversation about rebecca gayheart’s car crash and driving specifically. that’s it. i’m not sure why you feel the need to bring that up in an attempt to teach a life lesson to me when you have no idea whether or not i’ve been in a horrible situation but for some reason assumed not and that i needed your words of wisdom, but it is unwelcome.

        @ChillyWilly THANK YOU. rebecca disobeyed traffic laws and killed a child. this wasn’t a case of a child darting out into traffic suddenly and getting hit – THAT is an accident for the driver!

      • NicoleInSavannah says:

        @Olive
        I am sure many on here think your opinions on this are unwelcome so point is mooted.
        It is absolutely an accident, a careless one! And if opinions are truly like assholes, pretty sure I am entitled to mine just as you are to argue with everyone in this thread except for those only agreeing with you. That’s life.

    • olive says:

      what she needs to do is not speak about this in a passive and distancing voice and be honest. i’m sick of drivers acting like they aren’t at fault for anything, i get honked at and nearly hit in marked crosswalks daily but it’s just a mistake, forgive them, they’re not paying attention, it “could happen to any of us.” NO. we need to demand better from people who get behind the wheel of 2000 lbs of steel.

      • Fanny says:

        Yeah, her use of the passive voice definitely makes it sound like she thinks this is something that just happened and not something she was responsible for.

        It doesn’t make a lot of sense for her to claim this was all because she swerved by instinct. There were *multiple* cars stopped in front of her. If she came up from behind and made it past multiple vehicles, she swerved and then kept driving. It was the “kept driving” part that was the problem. OF COURSE the cars were stopped for a reason. It still sounds to me like she didn’t want to delay herself by slowing down, stopping and taking the time to assess what was going on.

        This morning I saw a dumbass attempt to “sneak around” a school bus that had the flashing lights on. This genius saw that the kids getting on were on the lefthand side of the road and thought he could just scoot around the bus on the right. Thank God this genius figured out that the right side of the bus is where the DOOR is and stopped before he hit four kids. Just stop for 60 seconds and wait, ok? Everybody seems to think their time is so damn important.

      • stephanie says:

        Thats what I said up thread. I think she was impatient and if there were several cars, then she was just trying to pass them on the left instead of waiting. We have all done it and all made mistakes like this but luckily no one got hurt.

        I feel like one gets redemption / forgiveness from themselves and others when they take 100% responsibility for their mistakes and are honest about what they did wrong. She isn’t there yet if she is still making excuses.

      • Jenn says:

        Anytime my husband tries to get around someone on a one-lane road who appears to be waiting to make a left turn, I panic and remind him that Rebecca Gayheart hit a child this way.

        I’ve read that this incident, plus her sister’s more recent death, really messed her up. It would really mess me up, too.

    • Lady D says:

      They are called accidents because they are not planned. She acted careless and entitled and had she been obeying the rules of the road this would not have happened. Accident? Maybe.

  18. pyritedigger says:

    Man, people are looking to really shred this woman to pieces. I was reading with a critical eye, but I really didn’t get a ton of self-absorption and not taking responsibility from her. I cannot even imagine how I would feel if I were involved in an accident like this and it sounds like she took responsibility in the moment and also seriously punished herself afterwards.

    It’s not like she intended to kill anyone, but she did. That is a possibility every time we get into a car. People who think something like this could never happen to them are really naive. It’s one of the reasons I hate driving and am extra careful when I do. In a blink of an eye something terrible can happen. A friend of mine died when the car he was in swerved when a deer popped out in the middle of the night on a highway. The car rolled over and he was killed. The driver didn’t mean to do it, but it happened. The circumstances are slightly different in her case, but it’s not like she saw a small child and drove recklessly.

    People need to have a little more compassion. She lives with a terrible burden and I am glad she found a way to live with herself and find some happiness in her life. It isn’t zero sum. I hope the parents of the child have also managed to find some peace.

  19. perplexed says:

    She didn’t drive with the intent of killing someone, even though she might have been negligent. I can see why she’d do the “what if’s” in her head. It’s something we judge naturally, but I can understand her wishing it had never happened. It does sound like she feels she should have paid for it in some way (hence, the self-destructive behaviour afterwards). I don’t know if this is an incident anyone would be able to talk about coherently even if you have the aid of publicists. Nothing is going to bring the little boy back so anything she would have said probably would have failed in people’s eyes, though I have no doubt she feels tremendous guilt about it (and I’ll assume this is the kind of guilt no one wants to live with).

  20. Fanny says:

    Accidentally injuring or killing someone with my car is a great fear of mine. I try to be a careful driver, but no one is perfect and accidents happen. I am certainly guilty of driving 40 in a 25 zone as the People article says Rebecca was doing.

    But at the same time, I get mad on a daily basis at all of the downright reckless driving I see, especially people operating SUV’s. You should be extra careful when you are driving a big, heavy vehicle that can do so much damage. Instead, it seems to empower people to drive dangerously because they know *they* have the extra protection.

    It sounds like Rebecca was going too fast on a side street, was following the cars in front of her too closely, and possibly tried to go around stopped traffic out of impatience.

    This whole thing about the kid running out in the street after a soccer ball is brand new information. It’s a little weird that suddenly we’re hearing a new scenario in 2019 and not back in 2001-2003. And a very cliched scenario at that.

    • olive says:

      exactly, SUVs are the ultimate selfish vehicle because all the protection is for the driver and SUVs are FAR more likely to kill people when they hit them versus a car. a car would hit someone in the legs, but SUVs hit people right in the torso. they don’t belong on city streets IMO, drive them in rural or suburban areas without foot traffic.

      • Notyouraveragehousewife says:

        Olive. Darling. You don’t have a driver’s license. You don’t drive. Hush your judgmental mouth. You have no clue what you’re talking about.

      • Boomer says:

        How long did you have your driver’s license before you gave it up?

      • Lady D says:

        I started driving in ’78 and I got my license in ’92 after taking a defensive driving course. I have been driving for 41 years, the last 20 in an SUV. I don’t and I have never had a single point on my license, even before I legally had it. I’ve never had or caused an accident of any kind, I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket. I got a parking ticket in ’93 that cost me $25 and that parking ticket is the only mark on an otherwise spotless driving record. I’m not bragging honest, Karma makes me afraid to brag about my driving record, but I drive carefully, at the speed limit, (weather depending) in my SUV. My biggest fear is hitting a person or animal behind the wheel. Living rurally means hitting animals is a real risk. We now have badger crossing signs where I live. Those are new. Can’t wait to see one of those things.

  21. Meg says:

    her initial comments after being questioned about the accident start with ‘I’ -which says a lot

  22. booney says:

    My friend’s mom backed over her 9-year-old, killing him instantly. She was a known alcoholic, but wasn’t tested as it happened on their (very long, rural) driveway. She was never charged but I’m sure she’s paid for it every day since.

  23. Olivers mom says:

    “Accident” is bullshit. It removes all responsibility from her. She made a mistake, but she still made it. Even if the car in front of her stopped short, she must have been driving too fast and too close if she was not also able to stop, and she must have been going MUCH TOO FAST, if she not only couldn’t stop in time to avoid hitting the car in front of her, but to also swerve around that car and still hit the child. It sounds to me like she’s rewriting history to fit her victim narrative and it is disgusting. If you are operating a car, which has the ability to kill, you are responsible for making sure that you are not risking the lives and safety of the most vulnerable road users and that includes children who do not always make responsible choices. That is why it’s called defensive driving. A child chasing a ball should not be paying for that mistake with his life.
    I still think she was impatiently accelerating around the vehicle in front of her because she didn’t know/care why they stopped. Drivers do this all the time.

    • olive says:

      i’m with you, Olivers mom!! i’m sick of everyone making excuses for drivers because that means they have to look at their own behavior behind the wheel and they don’t want to do that, they’d rather blame it on “everyone drives like that.” we need more urbanists around here! ;)

    • tealily says:

      I feel like this is real and true from a policy/legal standpoint, but I’m not sure it’s helpful from a personal standpoint. I’m a cyclist in an urban area and cyclists in my city get mowed down on an alarmingly regular basis. One that sticks in my head because I saw the aftermath was a guy who was run over by a truck making a righthand turn. The guy was in the bike lane and couldn’t get out of the way. The trucker wasn’t charged with anything (as far as I know). The biker did everything right, the trucker was at fault, but it was still an “accident.” He didn’t intentionally run a guy over, he just didn’t notice him when he passed him for whatever reason. It is not going to solve the problem to insist that the trucker torment himself with guilt every moment of the rest of his life. Nothing at this point brings the guy back. What we do need is protective bike lanes and more motorist awareness (everyone should look to the right before they turn on a street with a bike lane). Gayheart pled no contest, paid for the funeral, paid a private settlement, and spent several years suicidal. I’m not sure what else you want from her personally.

      • Fanny says:

        I think it would be great if she would admit that her aggressive driving was at fault and try to make people aware of the consequences of aggressive driving. No, it wasn’t intentional. No, she wasn’t drunk or on the phone. But it wasn’t an uncontrollable act of God either.

  24. manda says:

    If she swerved, I feel like that is a reflexive reaction, one you can’t really control. Like I know I have swerved into incoming traffic lanes and then been super thankful no one was coming at the time. What a horrible thing to have happen for everyone involved

  25. Amy Tennant says:

    You know, that is always the first thing I think about when I see her. Not 90210. Not Urban Legend. I always think about that little boy.

  26. Snowflake says:

    How can I say this? It’s tragic but it was an accident. Yes she did wrong but she didn’t intentionally hit him. A friend at my mom’s church was driving in a roundabout. A kid was bicycling and she hit him. He passed away. At my last neighborhood, a child was walking to school early in the morning, it was the time of year when it’s dark late in the morning. I guess he was walking along the road, a car hit him and killed him. I used to go on test drives as a used car saleswoman. One day, they had traffic diverted and then I found out why. A car had hit someone on a bicycle. The body was covered with a sheet, it had apparently just happened. All horrible accidents. But it happens unfortunately. Kids are careless sometimes and yes she was in the wrong but we all make mistakes driving. If she was high or drunk, it would be different imo. But sometimes we make innocent mistakes and it causes tragic accidents. It must be H e ll to lose a child and also to be the person who caused a child’s death.

  27. Ms. says:

    I’m a trauma therapist. People can absolutely develop PTSD by causing something like this. In that sense, she IS, for certain, also a victim. I agree that something terrible happened to both of them. It’s easy to shoot her down for “making it about her” but IT IS ALSO about her. I hope this helped other people going through something similar feel less alone.

    Anyone who drives long enough will have close calls we should be lucky not to turn into tragedies. We all have.

  28. stephanie says:

    I know a girl who did this in highschool because she impatient, negligent and didn’t want to stop.

    In front of a library, the car in the far right lane had stopped to let a small elderly woman cross the crosswalk. The teenage girl from my school didn’t want to stop and didn’t see the elderly woman entering the crosswalk. She changed to the left lane to pass the car that was stopped and she ended up hitting and killing the elderly woman in the cross walk.

    Did Rebecca Gayheart swerve to avoid rear-ending the car (she must have been tailgating if she is following that close) or was impatient and just trying to go around it without realizing a child was there?

  29. april says:

    I was in a line of cars where everyone stopped for a child pedestrian crossing where there wasn’t a crosswalk. I didn’t know what was going on until I saw him emerge on the other side, but logic tells you when people are all stopped there’s a reason. One guy behind me went around all the cars and just missed the kid. I do feel sorry for her that she hasn’t let go of this guilt. You can see it in her face. She’s paid her dues but she needs to forgive herself. The best thing she can do is tell her story so other people don’t make the selfish mistake she did.

  30. Tiffany :) says:

    I have to wonder if this was at a crosswalk without a stop sign or light (like in Santa Monica, etc.)

    In LA there are areas that have crosswalks painted over intersections and middle of blocks where there are NO stop signs and no lights. As a driver, you have to scan across 3 lanes of traffic to the left and 3 lanes of traffic to the right to see if someone is crossing, and during that time it is impossible to look at the traffic directly in front of you. Sometimes at these intersections, people might slow down or stop for a pedestrian, but the other traffic to the sides and behind can’t see that there is a pedestrian because they are blocked by cars. It is such a DANGEROUS set up. I don’t know why they don’t put overhead lights at these intersections that flash yellow when someone is crossing.

    In LA area, we have an INCREDIBLY high pedestrian mortality rate. People are killed by hit and runs every.single.day. I wish the cities invested more in pedestrian safety.

  31. Notafan says:

    I remember when this happened and it really affected me. Every time I get impatient while driving I think about this story and slow down and take a deep breath. I don’t know if she’s constructed a reality that allows her to live with herself, or she is really self centered. I do know that hearing what she did all those years ago has made me a better driver.

  32. Faye G says:

    Rebecca is rewriting history here. I remember the case well, and she clearly drove around the stopped cars out of impatience and struck the boy. The sudden stop and swerve due to the boy running after a soccer ball is a recent fiction.

    If it was truly a faultless accident, why was she given a suspended sentence and probation? Not to mention a civil settlement to the family. She didn’t intend to kill the boy, but she did cause it by driving recklessly.

    I wish she would have admitted to the facts as they happened, and not try to change them to make herself look better. It’s a slap in the face to Jorge’s family. I’m sure she has suffered for her act but this shows she hasn’t truly taken responsibility for her actions.

  33. Lindz says:

    I was driving home from work, mid day, a child and his mom / caregiver walking across the street at the correct walking indicator. I am perhaps overly cautious, and let the small family reach almost the other side of the road, much to the displeasure of the drivers behind me. In a fraction of a second – the young boy who was being held by the hand, broke free of her grasp and BOLTS back to the other side of the road smile on his face expecting his mom to give chase and have fun, and at this point I am turning right on a green light- all legal and totally to book – I was literally a second away from rolling over this young boy. I will never forget the woman’s face as her literally gallops back to him, she has a stroller on the other side of their road. the face of fear & thankfulness all at once – I pulled into the gas station at the corner and burst into panic tears. That moment, while nothing happened haunts me.
    Tragedy can happen, without malice. Trust me. Very sad for everyone here… moreover the family of the departed. Note : I was maybe 20 and 35 now -and since then, there are provincial wide law against turning right with pedestrians on the road at all in the crosswalk.

    • tealily says:

      You never do forget that kind of thing. I had a near miss where I was making a right-hand turn onto a busy, 6-lane road. There was a small break in traffic and I started to gun it, but as I turned I noticed a teenager on a bike riding the wrong way down the street toward me. I missed her by *inches*, and only because she swerved. I’m sure she was just popping over to Burger King from a house down the street and didn’t want to cross 6 lanes of traffic twice on her bike. It’s totally understandable. The amount a near miss shook me up, I don’t know how I would have handled it if I had hit her.

  34. JByrdKU says:

    I remember when this first happened. I don’t remember the rest coverage back then being as strong as it probably would be today, but I do think it impacted her career.