Guest speaker talks about the dangers of drunk driving



AP File Photo // Every day, 29 people in the United States die from Drunk Driving. “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me. You see in online, on the news.” Stern said. “You’re not supposed to die when you’re having fun.” 

By Ariana Leblanc Bessette

Staff Writer

Guest speaker Mark Stern spoke at the Cohen Ballroom on Monday, Oct. 15, about how life can drastically change when wrong choices are made.

When Stern was a senior in college, he and his four best friends decided to take a spring break trip down to Sanibel Island.

Their graduation was three months away, so they wanted to celebrate with a well-earned vacation.

Mark said how on the last night being in Florida, his friends decided to take shots and drink beer before heading out to a bar to dance, sing, and just have fun, “nobody wanted to miss out on the last night of spring break,” Stern said.

Toward the end of the night, it was decided that whoever was the “least drunk” would drive them home, and that person was Stern. 

Driving everyone back to where they were staying, with a 0.17 blood alcohol level and no seatbelts on, they crashed the car into the woods only two miles from their destination.

“The car flipped, and my friends flew,” Stern said.

Stern was brought to the hospital where he was unconscious and on life support for a week. 

After waking up, Stern learned that three out of his four friends were dead.

“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me. You see in online, on the news.” Stern said. “You’re not supposed to die when you’re having fun.” 

Then the Sanibel Police told Stern, still in his hospital bed, that he was charged with three counts of second-degree manslaughter and would have to serve up to 45 years in prison.

“The only thing I could think about was that my friends are dead,” Stern said. “It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been in trouble before or that I was a college student,” Stern said.

However, Stern ended up serving three years in a maximum-security prison in Florida.

“Life is all about choices, and I made the wrong choice,” Stern said.

Stern would have been the first in his family to graduate from college.

Today, Stern has told his story to over two million people across the country in hopes of preventing drunk drivers with his story.

“Time heals all wounds.”