Years mean different things to different people. Sure, you might see a bumper sticker slamming 2020 and automatically know that the pandemic made that year much harder on everyone — there are certainly some events that are cultural touchstones we all experience together — but each person’s feelings about a given year ultimately come down to their own personal experience. Everyone has ups and downs during their 365 day trip around the sun, but it really feels like some years are designed to test us more than others. For YouTuber Alia Marie "Lia" Shelesh, aka SSSniperWolf, that year was 2016.
Late in that year, SSSniperWolf released a video on her channel in which she explained that 2016 was the worst year of her life. It wasn’t because of the polarizing election that took place, nor was it related to anything else that made national headlines. It didn’t have anything to do with the success of her channel, either. In fact, according to Trackalytics, her subscriber count more than doubled that year, going from 2 million to over 4 million. She acknowledged in the video that she knows a lot of people have it way worse than her. Even so, 2016 was just the kind of year where bad things kept piling on — and it changed her forever.
SSSniperWolf’s dog Tuna died
One of the earliest and most difficult things to happen to SSSniperWolf involved her dog Tuna. "She was everything to me," Shelesh said in the video. "She was like my daughter. She followed me around everywhere … she wasn’t even a year old. She was, like, 11 months when this happened."
SSSniperWolf then went on to recount a night in January where she was sitting on the couch when she heard a loud noise from outside and called her dogs in from the yard. Tuna went straight to her bed and SSSniperWolf noticed that she seemed panicked. She realized Tuna was covered in "thick globs of spit" and had a small cut on her neck.
She then took Tuna into the vet where they told her that Tuna was likely attacked by a coyote who jumped the fence and that Tuna would probably be fine, but that they needed to keep her overnight. "I trusted them. I thought she was going to be okay," SSSniperWolf said. "And I [saw] her before we left and she seemed fine. She was wagging her tail when she saw me."
Unfortunately, she woke up to a call letting her know that Tuna’s heart had failed in the night and they needed to resuscitate her. The streamer paid for thousands of dollars in surgeries to try and save her pet, but Tuna ultimately needed to be put to sleep. Shelesh went on to explain that she had never lost anyone close to her before, and that this was her first real encounter with the death of a loved one.
SSSniperWolf was hit by a drunk driver
After the death of her dog, SSSniperWolf stated that something else happened in February, but that she would probably never talk about it in detail. She then explained that she was depressed for a long time, and in the midst of that depression, she was hit by a drunk driver in her brand new car.
"It was basically my dream car," she said. "I was so happy with it. I only had it for a couple of months and then me and [my boyfriend] Sausage wanted to go out for a frozen yogurt after playing ‘Overwatch‘ … We were just at a stoplight, looking at his phone, changing the song and then we just feel the car … like a crash out of nowhere." According to SSSniperWolf, the driver was going around 50-60mph because he was drunk and had fallen asleep with his foot on the gas.
It seems that everyone made it out of the crash without serious injury. Lia stated that the driver went to jail, but that the accident happened in June (six months prior to the recording of her video) and her brand new car was still in the shop.
SSSniperWolf’s house was robbed
Then, SSSniperWolf’s house was robbed while she was in the process of moving. In the video, she explained that she and her mother had packed up all of her belongings and were in the process of moving all of it to her new house. They had taken two carloads of stuff to the new place, but there was still a lot of stuff that still needed to be moved. The plan was to come back and move the rest of it when Lia returned from a week long San Diego Comic Con trip, but she received an email letting her know that someone had broken into her old house and stolen all of her belongings that hadn’t made the move yet. "They stole absolutely everything that we had packed up … all the furniture," explained SSSniperWolf. "All the kitchen utensils, supplies, appliances – everything."
They didn’t just rob her either. The police told her that these people had been squatting in the house as well. "It’s absolutely disgusting what they did to my house," she said. "They vandalized it. They, like, broke all the windows. Put, like, sheets all up in them."
It was lucky that it happened when she was already moving out. Still, she explained, while getting robbed is never easy, the house had been special to her and it was really hard to see it destroyed.