King is struck from behind by a van driven by Bryan Smith, as he walks against traffic in Lovell, Maine. He suffers a collapsed right lung, multiple fractures on his right leg, scalp laceration and a broken hip. His leg bones are so shattered that the doctors consider amputating it. King and his lawyers arrange to buy the van for $1,500 so King can hold a charity event where people would pay to smash it with a sledge hammer, but it was demolished before he was released from the hospital. After very seriously considering retiring from writing, he says:
I’m writing but I’m writing at a much slower pace than previously and I think that if I come up with something really, really good, I would be perfectly willing to publish it because that still feels like the final act of the creative process, publishing it so people can read it and you can get feedback and people can talk about it with each other and with you, the writer, but the force of my invention has slowed down a lot over the years and that’s as it should be.
Smith says that he had been distracted by his dog, which at the time of the accident was loose in the vehicle. He pleads guilty to driving to endanger, the lesser charge, and is sentenced to six months’ imprisonment (sentence suspended), and has his driver’s license suspended for a year due to having nearly a dozen previous infractions on record.