Legendary horror author Stephen King ruffled a couple feathers this week when he used his infamous Twitter account to mock a deadly train wreck involving Republicans and a garbage truck. The notoriously anti-Trump writer’s train wreck tweet began sounding like a joke that almost wrote itself, but it ended with King inferring that the trainload of Republican passengers may have met with “karma” in West Virginia when their ride to an exclusive retreat unceremoniously barreled into a garbage truck. The resulting collision spared the politicians’ lives, but the truck driver, 28-year-old Christopher Foley, was killed in the Wednesday crash.
As Fox News reports, Stephen King waited until Thursday to tweet his controversial response to the train wreck, and according to some folks’ responses, it was much too soon to be making light of the deadly situation. “A trainload of Republicans on their way to a pricey retreat hit a garbage truck,” King prefaced his Thursday tweet. “My friend Russ calls that karma.”
Since posted, Stephen King’s tweet has been liked 23,000 times, shared over 3,500 times, and responded to a whopping 12,000 times. While a handful of the replies were in support of King, who has made no secret of his disdain for Republican policies and politics using his Twitter feed, the vast majority blasted the horror author’s choice of words and perceived lack of tact in responding to a horrific vehicle crash.
A trainload of Republicans on their way to a pricey retreat hit a garbage truck. My friend Russ calls that karma.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 1, 2018
A little bit of internet sleuthing has determined that the “Russ” referenced in the King tweet was most likely a man by the name of Russ Dorr, a doctor by trade, known to be a friend and consultant to the author for decades. In addition to apparently influencing Stephen King’s Twitter faux pas, a 2009 King interview indicated that the doctor may have played a substantial role in the author’s literary legacy. According to King, Dr. Russ Dorr gave him some tips and tricks to properly describe true-to-life blood and gore.
Many of the first to respond to King’s Republican train wreck tweet accused the author of being way too glib about an accident that cost a man his life. Among those who took him to task was conservative British news personality Piers Morgan, who called Stephen King a “despicable man.”
A man died in that crash, you despicable man. https://t.co/MWfDsJEJYG— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 1, 2018
Many of the other responses to King’s train wreck tweet took a similar tone, blasting the pop culture icon for his blase response to the terrifying situation Republican lawmakers, and in some cases their wives and children, faced on that West Virginia train track.
There was a fatality in that wreck. But, yeah, laugh it up.— Zachary Shrier (@zshrier) February 1, 2018
i regret all the time i spent reading your books...which is very sad because i loved them...they no longer have a place on my shelves...the 1st editions, signed copies are gone...even the postcard you sent me is gone...shame on you...a person died in that accident...— janet ney (@janetney) February 1, 2018
What a disgusting, heartless comment. A man died in that crash.— Shana Putnam (@Blaze_inOn) February 2, 2018
Shortly after his initial Twitter response to the Republican train wreck, King followed up with a pseudo-apology. Not surprisingly, few felt that it was heartfelt, and many continued to call him out for his perceived lack of compassion for the victims of the crash.
Of COURSE sorry the truck driver died.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 1, 2018
Many of Stephen King’s critics and even some of his supporters (or ex-supporters, as the case may be) expressed shock and disbelief that someone with his own personal history would even contemplate mocking the victims of a seemingly random vehicle accident. After all, as ABC News reports, Stephen King himself was the victim of a nearly fatal incident in Maine in 1999, when he was hit by a van while taking a walk not far from his home.
At the time of his accident, which resulted in numerous injuries including a broken hip and leg, broken ribs, and lung and head injuries, King expressed little sympathy for the driver of the vehicle that hit him. That man, Bryan Smith, was ultimately sentenced to a six-month suspended jail sentence, something Stephen King spoke out against in a statement at the sentencing.
“What he took from me, my time, my peace of mind and my ease of body, are simply gone and no court can bring them back.”
Smith was later found dead of a drug overdose on King’s 53rd birthday in 2000.
Was it karma when that van hit you?— Mary Blake (@mmmblake1) February 1, 2018
As a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle and almost killed I would think you'd be a bit more sensitive. You know, Karma and all.— Jeff Schwartz (@WhiskeyFellow) February 2, 2018
In the end, Stephen King issued what appeared to be a “for real” Twitter apology for his previous tweet blaming Wednesday’s Republican train wreck on karma. In his apology King did question whether or not an apology was necessary in addition to calling his initial tweet “thoughtless.” He went on to add that Republican politicians “can be heartless” with their legislative votes, but many did render aid at the scene of the crash.
A rather thoughtless tweet from me concerning the train-truck crash, for which I apologize (if one is necessary). It should be pointed out, too, that those Republican politicians, who can be heartless when they vote, immediately got out to help.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 1, 2018