follow Nearly seven years ago, I made the most reckless, yet completely avoidable decision of my entire life. At 26, and fresh off a promotion to management with a financial services company, my dreams of a successful future were rapidly becoming a reality. I had convinced myself that this would be my destiny, and nothing could stop me from realizing it. Sadly, I’ve never been more wrong in my life.
here On a Monday in September, I chose to mix “business with bourbon”, ending up behind the wheel and distracted by my phone, drifting onto the shoulder of the road, and striking a 15-year-old on his bicycle. Days later, he died. From the moment I started my car, life as I knew it would never be the same.
Words alone will never be able to describe the unyielding pain and devastation I caused in the lives of two undeserving families. A single decision, one so completely unnecessary, left one set of parents mourning the tragic loss of their son, and the other forced to helplessly watch their first-born be sentenced to prison for 15 years.
I’ve spent six years inside these prison walls doing everything I can to make an example of my life, praying that my message prevents another family from having to live out this never-ending nightmare, as well as someone else from carrying a burden of guilt, living with the reality that they are responsible for the death of another person.
I recently read about a proposed legislation that would require ALL drunk-driving offenders to install an interlock device in their vehicle for six months (following a conviction). This is certainly a proactive approach to ratcheting-up the laws surrounding drunken-driving.
There is in the age old adage that we’ve all heard at one time or another, that says, “numbers don’t lie”. And in this new age of data-driven analytics, our society is growing exponentially dependent on using “numbers” to define success or failure in nearly all areas of our lives.
A new report released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving has shed light on yet another alarming number we need to put into perspective. Across the country, ignition interlocks (the simple device that prevents someone impaired from starting their vehicle) have halted 1.77 million vehicles from being started by what would be a drunk-driver. A frightening number of drivers who could’ve easily become another Chad Mattson, DUI Killer.
I realize that not everyone will agree with my stance on this issue, and many will say I’m nothing more than a hypocrite. But, this much I can say: I live every single day of my life with heartache and regret because of a horrible decision that I would give my life to take back.
Six years ago a judge informed me that my “debt to society” would be a 15-year prison sentence. I’m here to tell you that I refuse to accept that. My debt can never be paid with years in prison, or in any way for that matter. But, I will not allow September 28, 2009 to be in vain.
The most valuable debt that I can pay is to share my story and prevent as many people as possible from making the same terrible mistake.
Please support any and all legislation that will help deter a drunk-driver (like myself) from devastating the lives of so many others.
Florida Department of Corrections