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14 Details About The Horrible Accident That Almost Killed Stephen King

Updated September 3, 2020 187.8k views14 items

Stephen King's car accident seemed like a violent story from one of the novelist's books. It was so brutal, it almost killed him. The bestselling author was out for a walk near his home in 1999, when a distracted driver slammed into him with enough force to send King over the top of the vehicle and into a ditch. He was lucky to survive, but he suffered serious injuries.

Who hit Stephen King, leaving him injured? Bryan Smith, the driver of the van, instantly became famous as "the guy who almost killed Stephen King," unwillingly becoming a part of the canon of Stephen King trivia. Charges were brought against Smith and he made a heartfelt apology, but many accused King of abusing his celebrity status in his treatment of Smith during the court case.

The time Stephen King almost died has as many strange details as one of his novels. In fact, this true Stephen King story has been adapted into several his works already. So what happened to the guy who ran over Stephen King? And did Stephen King really buy the van that hit him? The answers to these questions, along with other strange details, will keep you on the edge of your seat.

  • There Was Some Shoddy Police Work Involved

    Photo: Warner Bros. Television

    Warren Silver, Stephen King's lawyer, pointed out some possible bad police work surrounding Bryan Smith, stating, ''They should have impounded the vehicle, and they should have tested him for drugs and alcohol at the scene, and they didn't do it."

    It is also interesting to note Matt Baker, the sheriff's deputy who responded to the accident, was once a member of the Fryeburg (a small town in Maine) police along with Everett Smith, Bryan Smith's brother. Supposedly, the only eyewitness that gave a statement was Matt Baker's uncle, Chip. 

  • Stephen King Continued To Wear The Lenses From His Demolished Glasses

    Photo: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

    Bryan Smith slammed into Stephen King so hard, the author's glasses flew off and were found in the front seat of Smith's van. Smith believed he hit a small deer until he saw the bloody frames. As King himself said in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, "The frames were bent and twisted, but the lenses were unbroken. They are the lenses I'm wearing now, as I write this."

    King replaced the damaged frames, but decided to keep the lenses. ''I guess that I wanted to say that things that we ordinarily would see as quite fragile aren't necessarily that fragile. It's true of the glasses, and it's true of me. I got bent, I got busted around a lot, but I'm still here.''

  • King Used His Story In The Dark Tower

    Photo: Columbia Pictures

    Stephen King used the story of his accident as inspiration for the final novel of The Dark Tower series. He created a character named Bryan Smith, apparently modeled after the real man, but more reckless and dumb. In the novel, Smith is driving while high and gets distracted by his dog.

    Smith nearly strikes a character, aptly named Stephen King, with his car, but instead hits and kills another character who pushes King out of the way.. Conversations in the book are based on the real exchange that took place between King and Smith while they waited for medical help.

  • The Accident Also Guest Stars In Kingdom Hospital

    Photo: Buena Vista Television

    Kingdom Hospital, a mini-series based on a Lars Von Trier series of the same name, also features a scene based on King's accident. A main character gets hit by a van when the driver is distracted by a dog.

    In other parallels, the hospital is located in Lewiston, the same hospital Stephen King was airlifted to after his accident. The van driver is seen later in the series swallowing unmarked pills out of a bottle, possibly in reference to Bryan Smith's death.