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Guest Blog: He Killed a Man

The following blog was written by Adrian Kulp and originally appeared on his website, Adrian is a blog ambassador for The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s #TalkEarly program. To read more from Adrian, click here.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m honored to work with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility on their #TalkEarly campaign, educating parents and kids on underage drinking and drunk driving.

My next post with them wasn’t supposed to happen for another few weeks, but something in the news caught my eye and I offered to talk about it.

You may be aware of or seen the video that was made by Because I Said I Would for 22-year old Matthew Cordle.  Because I said I would is a social movement dedicated to bettering humanity through the power of a promise. Their goal is to encourage positive change and acts of kindness and they send “promise cards” to anywhere in the world at no cost.  Because I said I would executes charitable projects in support of other non-profit organizations and good they bring into the world.

If you haven’t watched this video, take a minute.  Matthew delivers a confession to drunk driving… and killing a man.

In the beginning of this confession, Matthew talks about being depressed.  He talks about drinking to ‘get out of his head’.

I know what that’s like.  There have been times in my life when I’ve done it.

The year I turned 21 was one of those times.  Within the course of ten months, my best friend and roommate in college had died unexpectedly in his sleep at 25 years old and I gave a eulogy at his funeral.  A few months later, my house burned to the ground along with everything I had in it.  A few weeks after that, I was hit broadside by a speeding Lincoln Continental on a cold highway in upstate Pennsylvania, leaving me banged up and bruised, totaling my vehicle.  Almost in an instant, I found myself briefly homeless and living out of a backpack.

I drank to escape reality and more than once I probably got behind the wheel when I shouldn’t have.

People drink for different reasons.

There’s been a lot of conversation and comments about this video, the event, the confession and what the result might be.

I don’t think what Matthew did in this video is heroic and I don’t respect his actions or decision to act recklessly and take another man’s life.  I don’t think that he should receive any lighter of a sentence.

I do, however, think what he’s done here takes some courage.  Even though the police already had him labeled as a suspect, I do have respect for the fact that he’s coming forward in the public eye, owning up to his mistake and using his experience as a way to encourage people not to drink and drive.  Whether or not anyone watching the confession believes his admissions are genuine is for you to decide.

Matthew Cordle was arrested and indicted this week for aggravated vehicular manslaughter.  He’s facing up to 8 1/2 years behind bars.

I’ve always been the type of person that relates better to something when I see or talk to someone who has gone through it.  It seems to hold more weight with me than if someone just tells me not to do something or that it ‘might’ have certain consequences.  The first time I watched this confession, it gave me the chills.

This is a very young man, someone’s son, brother or nephew.  He took the innocent life of 61-year old Vincent Canzani, an ex-husband, father and grandfather.  Two families and countless people have been affected by one poor decision.  Perhaps if Matthew had seen a video like the one he made earlier in his youth, this wouldn’t have happened.

Matthew could’ve hit me and my family that night.  Maybe he could’ve hit you.

Do you believe that this young man truly understands the grief he’s caused Vincent’s family, as well as his own or does the dramatic music and production value get in the way and make it feel like a ploy for compassion from the judge for a lighter sentence?

I think this confession serves as an interesting talking point about when and how we educate young people about consequences of underage drinking and drunk driving, part of what The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s #TalkEarly campaign is all about.

As you know, my kids are only toddlers, but in a few years there will be a time where my wife and I will have to talk to them about the effects of drinking and how to act responsibly.

For those of you with teenagers, do you think that showing them this video is appropriate and might it have a greater impact on their OWN actions moreso than just telling them ‘that something bad might happen’?