My name is Chris Cayden, and here is my story.

It’s been 15 years since I was the victim of of drunk driver. I remember it as if it were yesterday, waking up in the hospital, the pain, the confusion, the uncertainty of the entire situation. After realizing where I was and what happened, I began to panic and fear set in.  Here’s what happened…

While living in Pennsylvania in September 2002 I was driving home from a night club where clients of mine were performing and I went to be paid for the design work I’d done. I went to the bar, met with the band, collected my money, and left. I’d done this countless times before without incident. I only know what happened next because of what I was told by witnesses and derived from police reports, I have very little memory of that entire week, just fuzzy flashbacks.

What I didn’t realize is that right behind me driving was a guy that the night club had literally tossed out for being too drunk, turns out he had a history of drinking and driving and this wasn’t his first offense, or second.

I was in the right lane stopped at a red light, then blam it happened. The full size Dodge Ram pickup truck hit me from behind travelling about 60 mph, knocked me 75 feet through the intersection coming to a stop in the left lane of traffic.  I was at a dead stop when the impact happened, it destroyed my car and caused several injuries to me…including:

  • a concussion
  • severe cervical sprain of my neck
  • a dislocated disc in my lower back L4/L5
  • micro tears throughout he muscles in my back
  • a badly bruised right knee
  • severe insomnia
  • painful headaches
  • several shards of glass that cut the back of my head when the rear windshield exploded on impact

I woke up in the hospital late the next evening with IV’s in my arm, and blood on my neck brace and so much pain I didn’t know what was happening.  I spent several months wearing a hard collar neck brace and had to walk with a cane until I healed enough to start rehab.  I spent almost a year rehabilitating myself, realizing everyday that I was lucky to be alive, grateful even for the setbacks.  I was lucky, I was injured but I survived.  I had three doctors and seven nurses tell me I should not have lived through this accident.  I’m not going to lie, hearing that was a bit odd but it really put things into perspective.

After rehab and getting in better shape I decided for a fresh start, so I moved to New York and attended film school at the New York Film Academy which was a lifelong dream to live in NYC and go to school.  My life turned out great, I began my own web design and development company with clients all over the world, I have wonderful friends and a loving family, an awesome dog, compete in 5K races, and started martial arts training earning a red belt in Tang Soo Do karate, as well as training other disciplines along the way.

I was 100% sober that night, the drunk driver who hit me was 2.5 times over the legal limit in Pennsylvania.  He lost his drivers license for a year and paid some fines, medical expenses, and that was it I never heard from him again.  The damage had been done.  My car crushed and my life banged up.  It didn’t stop me it only made me angry until I came to terms with things.  That night in September changed my perspective on life and I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in 15 years and I don’t plan on that ever changing.

I’ve known people that have died as a result of drunk driving, I take a hard line on this issue I don’t pity or feel bad for those that get caught.  It’s stupid, dangerous, and can shatter lives in an instant.

I was lucky but I know so many others are not.  My story is a positive one, I survived.

Thanks for reading,

Chris Cayden