Nikki Catsouras was just 18 years old last Halloween when she took her father's Porsche without permission and while driving 100 miles an hour clipped another car, lost control and slammed into a cement tollbooth. She was killed instantly. Her parent, Christos and Lesli Catsouras were devastated with grief and thought things could not get worse but that is where they were wrong.
Nikki's parents are suing California Highway Patrol for leaking accident scene photos that ended up all over the internet. The girls parents have been tormented by anonymous e-mail's that contain pictures of their daughter at the accident scene. One horrific photo shows the dead teen decapitated and still strapped in the front seat of her father's Porsche.
The pictures made their way to over 1,600 online websites. The family no longer uses the internet and has pulled their 16 year old daughter from school because they fear other students might confront her with the pictures. She is now being home schooled.
A judge in California ruled that the lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol could go forward. The CHP, in a letter to the Catsouras family, admitted that their dispatchers violated department policy but stated that they are not legally responsible for the pain and anguish that it caused the family. That won't be for the CHP to determine - but will be up to the courts to decide.
May 2, 2009 UPDATE: The case has gotten renewed interest while the family awaits a legal ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeals that is due by June 1, 2009. Their original case was dismissed in Orange County Superior Court. The judge ruled that Nikki's right to privacy did not extend to her grieving family. The court can uphold the findings or can send it back to trial. The charges stem from the CHP leaked photos of the dead girl's body that were distributed widely on the internet.
We've included additional photos below.
BE FOREWARNED: More 'horrendously graphic' Nikki crash photos available here.