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10 Times That an Innocent Mistake Led to a Tragic Outcome

by Julie Henthorn
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Whether we choose to admit it or not, we have all made mistakes at one time or another. Even though these errors help us learn and grow along the way, that also does not mean we are immune to future mistakes.

A childhood mistake might consist of something simple such as forgetting to put away your toys or failing to turn in your homework, whereas an adult mistake might be something a bit more serious such as forgetting to lock the doors to your home or accidentally leaving the stove on. Yet regardless of the error, we are faced with some sort of disciplinary action or punishment as a result of our oversight.

However, we typically would not equate being shot at or losing our life as a “punishment” for something as simple as a mistake. We also certainly would not assume that our error in judgment might take another’s life. Unfortunately, this was the sad reality for those on this list.

Here are ten times a seemingly innocent mistake led to a tragic outcome.

Related: Top 10 Stupid Mistakes That Ended A Serial Killer’s Career

9 Getting into the Wrong Car

EXCLUSIVE: Texas cheerleader who was shot after friend got into the wrong car speaks out

In the early morning hours of April 18, 2023, 18-year-old Payton Washington, 21-year-old Heather Roth, and two other young women were heading home from cheerleading practice at Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. in Oak Ridge North, Texas.

Given that the young women had to travel approximately 360 miles (579 kilometers) round-trip three times a week for their competitive cheerleading practice, they used the H-E-B supermarket in Elgin, Texas, as a meeting place and then carpooled together.

When the women arrived back at the H-E-B parking lot, Roth exited her friend’s car and opened the door to a vehicle she believed was hers. Unfortunately, Roth noticed a man sitting in the passenger seat. Assuming a stranger was in her car, Roth panicked and promptly exited the vehicle, getting back into her friend’s car.

The person in the mistaken car then got out and approached the young women. Roth rolled down her window and attempted to apologize for the mix-up, but the man “threw his hands up, pulled out a gun, and started shooting.”

Washington was unfortunately shot in the leg and back during the altercation, causing damage to multiple organs. She was taken to a local hospital by helicopter, where she underwent surgery to remove her ruptured spleen. Roth suffered a graze wound and was treated and released at the scene.

The suspect, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., was taken into custody and charged with deadly conduct.[1]

9 Misplaced DoorDash Order

Man shot to death in DoorDash delivery gone wrong in Conyers, deputies say | WSB-TV

On September 8, 2022, 20-year-old Fernando Soloman of Conyers, Georgia, placed an order with DoorDash. However, when the DoorDash driver arrived, Solomon’s food was delivered to the wrong duplex unit and left next door.

Naturally assuming there was a simple way to rectify the mistake, Soloman went next door to retrieve his food. Sadly, not only would Soloman never receive his food, but he also would never make it back home.

When Soloman arrived next door, one of the residents, 44-year-old Zaire Watson Sr., received a Ring camera notification on his cell phone. Given that he was not home at the time, he called his son, Zaire Cortell Watson Jr., who was at home at the time. Watson Jr. stated he then saw Soloman reach into his pocket, so he opened the door and shot him.

Deputies were later dispatched to the scene and found Soloman on the ground bleeding from gunshot wounds. The deputies attempted to perform first aid and stop the blood flow until EMS arrived, but Soloman died on the scene.

Watson Jr. was detained at the scene and admitted to the shooting. He was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, murder, and felony murder.[2]

8 Incorrect Use of Pesticide

Four Texas children believed to be killed by pesticide gas

In an attempt to kill mice, Peter Balderas spread Weevil-Cide pellets—a fumigant used against destructive pests and burrowing rodents—underneath the mobile home he shared with his wife Martha and their eight children in Amarillo, Texas.

Balderas obtained the heavily-regulated commercial-grade pesticide from a friend, Isidro Ulloa, who was not a licensed fumigator and did not inform Balderas about the product. Unfortunately, the directions were solely in English, so Balderas, who is a native Spanish speaker and cannot read English, was unable to read the product instructions and was unaware of the deadly gas the pesticide creates if misused.

Therefore, when someone in the home complained about the smell of the pesticide, Balderas crawled underneath his home and attempted to simply wash away the Weevil-Cide with water from a garden hose. Weevil-Cide reacts when it is mixed with moisture, so in doing so, Balderas unknowingly released phosphine gas.

On January 2, 2017, a friend went to the Balderas’s home and called 911 after finding everyone sick.

Sadly, four of the Balderas children—three boys aged 7, 9, and 11, and a 17-year-old girl—died due to “complications of acute aluminum phosphide (phosphine gas) exposure” as well as pulmonary edema, one on scene and the other three at the hospital. Balderas and his other four children were hospitalized for several days, and Martha spent weeks in intensive care but survived.

The Balderases went on to file a wrongful death lawsuit against United Phosphorus, the maker of Weevil-Cide, given the lack of adequate bilingual instructions and warnings. They also named Ulloa in the lawsuit.[3]

7 Pulling into the Wrong Driveway

20-Year-Old Kaylin Gillis Shot Dead After Going Into Wrong Driveway: Cops

On April 15, 2023, 19-year-old Blake Walsh, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis—his girlfriend of four years—and two other friends were traveling together in search of a party that was being held by local high school graduates in Hebron, New York. An additional group of friends—one in a car and one on a motorcycle—were also traveling with Walsh’s Ford Explorer to the party.

Just before 10 pm, the group drove up the driveway of a residence where they assumed the party was. Unfortunately, given the rural area, lack of cell service, and poorly lit driveways, it wasn’t until later that the group of friends realized they were at the wrong location.

Sadly, even though no one in the group exited the vehicle or attempted to enter the property, as they began to turn around and leave, the property owner, 65-year-old Kevin Monahan, who “had a reputation as a sour character who did not like visitors,” fired two shots from his front porch.

Gillis was in the front passenger seat, and given that Walsh’s SUV was the last vehicle to turn around, one of the bullets entered through the rear driver’s side, striking Gillis in the neck.

Walsh drove for approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers) in search of cell service before reaching the neighboring town of Salem and being able to call 911. Emergency responders arrived and attempted to perform CPR on Gillis, but she was unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene.

When police arrived at Monahan’s residence, he was initially uncooperative, refusing to speak with investigators, stating he had been “in bed since 8:30 pm.” and blaming the gunfire on hunters. However, after an hour of authorities communicating with him both in person and through a 911 dispatcher, Monahan was taken into custody early the next day and was charged with second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, and tampering with evidence.

Monahan’s lawyer later issued a statement regarding the shooting that said, “The vehicles speeding up the driveway with engines revving and lights shining certainly caused some level of alarm to an elderly gentleman who had an elderly wife” and that Mr. Monahan “sincerely regrets this tragedy.”[4]

6 Mistaken for a Car Thief

Customer shoots, kills tire shop employee he thought was stealing his car, DeKalb police say

On December 31, 2022, 30-year-old Quadarius McDowell took his car to the Tires Plus shop in Decatur, Georgia, in order to have brake work done on the vehicle. However, when McDowell returned to pick up his vehicle, tragedy unfolded.

Upon his return, McDowell saw 24-year-old Daniel Gordon driving his vehicle in the parking lot. Gordon was a mechanic at the Tires Plus location and was simply taking the car for a test drive. Sadly, McDowell assumed Gordon was trying to steal his vehicle and began firing multiple shots, hitting Gordon, and then fleeing the scene on foot.

Gordon was taken to a local hospital but did not survive. McDowell was found hiding nearby a short time later and was arrested. He was charged with malice murder.[5]

5 Knocking on the Wrong Apartment Door

Teen killed after knocking on the wrong door

Nineteen-year-old Omarion Banks and his girlfriend, Zsakeria Mathis, had just moved into a new apartment in Atlanta, Georgia. Banks had been visiting his mother, so in the early morning hours of March 29, 2019, Mathis sent a Lyft to pick up Banks and bring him home.

Unfortunately, the Lyft driver dropped Banks off near the wrong breezeway, and since he wasn’t familiar with the area, he ended up knocking on the wrong apartment door.

While Banks eventually began to walk away from the door, the resident of the apartment, 32-year-old Darryl Bynes, grabbed his gun before heading out on his balcony to confront Banks. From there, a verbal exchange ensued between the two, and even though Banks tried to apologize before fleeing down the stairs, Bynes fired his gun three times, striking Banks twice in the neck.

Bynes then called 911 and told the dispatcher he fired in self-defense, assuming Banks was trying to break into his apartment. First responders were sent to the complex, but even with both EMTs and neighbors attempting to provide medical attention to Banks, he died on the scene.

Bynes was charged with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree criminal property damage, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. On July 18, 2023, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 15 years.[6]

4 Basketball Rolling into Neighbor’s Yard

Suspect arrested in Florida after shooting of family in North Carolina l GMA

April 18, 2023, initially seemed like a normal spring evening. William James White was grilling and his six-year-old daughter Kinsley was playing with friends and riding her bike while another group of kids played a game of basketball in their Crowders Mountain, North Carolina, neighborhood.

At some point during the game, the basketball rolled into 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary’s yard. However, as the children went to retrieve the ball, Singletary began yelling at them. One of the children then told his father what happened, and the father went to Singletary’s house to confront him. But the confrontation only fueled Singletary’s anger. Singletary went inside his home, got a gun, and came out of the door running, opening fire on the neighbors.

White then stepped in and attempted to round up the neighborhood children and get them to safety. Given the dangerous behavior, White then approached Singletary and told him there were too many children outside for him to be shooting. White’s comment did not sit well with Singletary, who dropped the gun he was holding, grabbed another, and began firing at White and his daughter Kinsley.

After three shots, White saw Singletary point his gun straight at Kinsley, and as White ran to shield her from the gunfire, he was shot in the back. The bullet punctured one of his lungs and liver before exiting from his belly. The shrapnel from the bullet then lodged in Kinsley’s cheek. Singletary went on to fire three more times before fleeing the scene.

Upon hearing the gunshots, Carl Hilderbrand, Kinsley’s grandfather, instructed neighbors to call 911. White was taken to a local hospital and later flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, before being released on April 22, 2023. Kinsley was taken to the emergency room, where she was treated.

On April 20, 2023, Singletary, who had made it all the way to Tampa, Florida, turned himself in and was later extradited to North Carolina. He faces four charges of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon.[7]

3 Choosing Wrong Hiding Spot During Hide and Seek Game

Man accused of shooting 14-year-old neighbor in back of head as she played hide-and-seek

On May 7, 2023, an unidentified 14-year-old girl was among a group of juveniles that were playing hide and seek in a Starks, Louisiana, neighborhood. However, the children made the unfortunate mistake of playing hide and seek in a neighbor’s backyard and hiding on the property.

Therefore, when the property owner, 58-year-old David V. Doyle, observed “shadows outside his home,” he went to retrieve his firearm. Although the children meant no harm, when Doyle saw people running away from his property, he began firing at them, unknowingly hitting the 14-year-old girl in the back of the head.

Deputies were called to the scene, and the teenager was transported to an out-of-town hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Her family later stated she was “okay and recovering.”

Doyle was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, and illegal discharge of a firearm.[8]

2 Mistaken Identity

Police arrest 3 teens for allegedly killing pregnant woman in Baton Rouge

Thirty-six-year-old Kerisha Johnson of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was nine months pregnant and days away from giving birth to her third daughter.

Tragically, on April 16, 2023, as Johnson was picking people up from an Easter “teen party,” several people pulled out guns before pointing them at Johnson’s vehicle and opening fire. Johnson attempted to flee the scene but was struck, killing both her and her unborn baby.

The shooters had encountered a vehicle earlier in the night that fired a round into the air as they drove past the party. Unfortunately, when Johnson arrived, they mistook her white sedan for the vehicle that had driven by earlier and began shooting at her before fleeing the scene.

Nineteen-year-old Marques Porch was later located by police, along with several other passengers. Porch, along with nineteen-year-old Gregory Parker and 19-year-old Derrick Curry, were all arrested and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree feticide. Porch, who provided firearms to the other two teens, was employed by the Department of Corrections as a transportation driver but was “terminated immediately.”

Nineteen-year-old Desmond Robinson and 18-year-old Torey Campbell were also later arrested for their involvement in the shooting and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide.[9]

1 Went to the Wrong House to Pick Up Siblings

Ralph Yarl, teen shot after mistakenly going to the wrong house, talks about recovery l GMA

On April 13, 2023, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl’s mother asked him to pick up his younger twin brothers from a friend’s house located at Northeast 115th Terrace in Kansas City, Missouri. However, Yarl had never been to the home before and accidentally arrived at the wrong address—Northeast 115th Street.

Unaware of his mistake, Yarl naturally pulled his car into the driveway before walking up the steps and ringing the doorbell. After waiting “a long time,” 84-year-old Andrew Lester opened the door but pulled out a gun, aiming directly at Yarl. Yarl stated Lester then told him, “Don’t ever come here again,” before pulling the trigger, hitting Yarl in the head and the right arm.

Despite his injuries, Yarl went to multiple homes, shouting for help until someone finally answered and agreed to contact the police. Yarl was taken to the hospital, and although he survived, he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Lester was detained for less than two hours the night of the shooting but turned himself in approximately one week later. Regarding the shooting, Lester claimed he was scared and “believed someone was attempting to break into the house” after seeing a “black male approximately 6 feet [1.8 meters] tall.”

Lester was charged with felony first-degree assault and armed criminal action but pleaded not guilty to the charges. On April 18, 2023, Lester was released on bond pending his preliminary hearing in August 2023.

Given that the shooting happened in the neighborhood where Yarl lived, he initially went to live with his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, before his family eventually relocated to another area.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen