Twenty years to the day after the near-fatal automobile accident which almost claimed his life, Stephen King took to Twitter to look back upon that fateful day. In June of 1999, King was very seriously injured when the beloved writer was struck by a van. Two decades later, King is reiterating how the incident has made him much more appreciative of the life he’s been able to lead since that date. While his survival alone can be considered a miracle, King also notes how he came very close to losing one of his legs, stressing that the horrible situation could have even been much worse.
“On June 19th, 1999 I got hit by a van while taking a walk. As I lay unconscious in the hospital, the docs debated amputating my right leg and decided it could stay, on a trial basis. I got better. Every day of the 20 years since has been a gift.”
Leading up to the accident, King was taking an afternoon walk by Maine State Route 5. Meanwhile, driver Bryan Edwin Smith was distracted by an unrestrained dog in the back, temporarily taking his eyes off the road. According to witnesses, Smith’s minivan then struck King from behind with the author landing about 14 feet away from the pavement. Although in very serious pain, King was conscious when officers arrived, and was eventually flown via air ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center. Soon after, the extent of his injuries was revealed, which included a collapsed lung, multiple leg fractures, a scalp laceration, and a broken hip.
As mentioned by King, doctors initially planned to amputate King’s shattered right leg, but they were able to save it by stabilizing the bones with an external fixator. Within ten days time, King had endured five operations and physical therapy, remaining in the hospital for several weeks. The incident would continue to haunt King for years to come, leading to his lawyer and two others to buy the actual minivan that hit him. This was reportedly done to prevent the vehicle from being sold on eBay, and the minivan was then destroyed at a junkyard. King would later remark he fantasized about destroying the vehicle himself or even letting others take part in smashing it to bits for a charity event. As for the driver, Smith was found dead a little over a year past the accident, apparently the result of a suicide.
In 2002, King was still struggling with pain associated with his injuries. He was no longer able to sit comfortably for as long as he used to be and also had much lower stamina. As it had by then reached the point that it was almost unbearable, and the author had even announced his retirement from writing. As we know now, King later picked the pen back up and continued doing what he does best, though as he states on his website, he now writes at a “much slower pace” than he had been before.
The past two decades have been a gift not just for King, but also for his many fans across the planet. After bringing so much joy and entertainment to millions of people for so many years, we can certainly all agree that the world is a much better place with Stephen King in it. Here’s to another 20 years, Sai King. You can take a look at the touching tweet below, courtesy of Stephen King on Twitter.
On June 19th, 1999 I got hit by a van while taking a walk. As I lay unconscious in the hospital, the docs debated amputating my right leg and decided it could stay, on a trial basis. I got better. Every day of the 20 years since has been a gift.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) June 19, 2019