Andy Jackson is driving with his friends while drunk. When he crashes the car, he and the others are able to escape, except for Robert Washington. Robert is unable to escape from the car because he was resting his feet on the dashboard when the crash occurred; the force of the crash sent his legs through the windshield, trapping him halfway. He was unable to free himself before the car's fuel tank exploded, burning him alive.
The trauma of this experience drives Andy into depression; his reactions, and the reactions of the people in his life, form the basis of the story. Robert's death is not actually "seen" in the story, but is told via a newspaper clipping that appears before the first chapter, implying that the event has already taken place.