"I'm endlessly sorry," the jackpot winner told a Wiesbaden court in tears at the opening of his trial on Tuesday.
"I still don't understand it today. I've been asking myself every day for three years."
Rarely can someone's luck have changed so spectacularly and so quickly – although the downturn in this man's fortunes was entirely of his own making.
In November 2011 a 51-year-old man from Wiesbaden was gambling in the town's casino when he hit a jackpot of €500,000, Hessicher Rundfunk reported.
Prosecutors in Wiesbaden told the court on Tuesday that he called up his wife and son, who drove him to the nearby state capital, Frankfurt.
Once he was done partying in Frankfurt, he drove to Kaiserslautern to settle a pre-existing debt, before heading to Bad Homburg to hit the casino there.
The man kept on gambling, sustaining himself on alcohol and cocaine, the prosecution said.
Eventually, after thirty-six hours without any sleep, the man decided to drive back to Wiesbaden, but missed the correct exit off the motorway.
Instead of driving until he found an exit where he could turn around, he did a U-turn in the middle of the road and crashed head-on into an oncoming car.
The 56-year-old driver died, while his wife and son in the passenger seats were severely injured.
But the drunk and sleep deprived 51-year-old continued to drive the wrong way down the motoway after that first crash, travelling a further two hundred metres before hitting the next oncoming vehicle.
That driver suffered a broken rib and forearm and his female companion suffered bruising. Another car then collided into the pile-up. The driver was bruised.
“My client was trapped in his car,” said a lawyer representing one of the victims. “The accident was a traumatic experience.”
The defendant fled from the scene, escaping on foot to Frankfurt. But, on the next day he handed himself in to the police. He has since admitted to the crime.
“My client had no intention of killing anybody,” said his lawyer in court.
The prosecution saw it similarly. “He was aware that people had been injured. But he didn't mean to kill anyone,” they conceded.