Book of the Week 9/30/13


I can’t begin to comprehend why it would occur to someone to send family members graphic death photos of loved ones following an accident. Why would someone also put copies in the school locker belonging to a sibling of the victim or texting them to the siblings’ phones? Why would someone do something so horrible?

18-year-old Nicole “Nikki” Catsouras was killed October 31, 2006 in Orange County, California, after taking her father’s Porsche and speeding 100 miles per hour before clipping another car and crashing into a toll booth. After a California Highway Patrol officer released photos of the collision, the gruesome death images went viral, appearing on at least 35 web sites soon as three weeks after the fatal accident. The number of web sites displaying Nikki’s death photos multiplied to thousands by early 2007. Some still remain online to this day.

The family filed a lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol, eventually receiving a $2.3 million settlement, but by then, many Web surfers had seen and commented on the shocking pictures.

Nikki’s mother, Lesli Catsouras, recounts the horror and subsequent turmoil her family experienced following the leak of Nikki’s accident pictures in Forever Exposed: The Nikki Catsouras Story (Dog Ear Publishing, 2012).

Excerpt from the Book:

The second I hear the dispatcher’s voice I lose all control of my words. “My daughter has just taken my car without my permission…” I squeeze my eyes and feel the chain of trust that I have spent eighteen years building unlink. To make sure I get the dispatcher’s attention, I add: “I think she’s been drinking alcohol…”

Forever Exposed is not only a touching memoir in the aftermath of Nikki’s death, but also explores the fine lines of freedom of speech in addition to topics that should be openly addressed more often: cyberbullying and trolling. The Catsouras family was subjected to comments on blogs and web sites stating things as “It’s her own fault she’s dead”, “She got what she deserved” and “So a spoiled little bitch stole her daddy’s Porsche.” “I was so happy! I raped her corpse.”

There were also anonymous (and appalling) messages from some blog readers masturbating to the gruesome photos.

Forever Exposed shows readers how a family coped with circumstances no one would ever imagine could happen to them. Lesli Catsouras’ remarkable courage shines throughout the book, and because of Lesli telling her side of the story, readers will find a whole new perspective of what actually led up to the loss of her beautiful daughter Nikki.