My name is Jim, I am now 24 years old & I reside in St. Louis, MO. On the night of June 29, 2012, nearly a year before this tragedy occurred, I could have been Matthew Cordle. I only say this because what happened to Matthew, could happen to anyone.
In reading Matthew’s story & watching his video, I immediately thought back to my night, the decision that I had made, the outcome, & how it could have been much, much worse. Fortunately my outcome was different, fortunately my terrible & selfish decision didn’t result in the loss of life, but it very easily could have, and it almost did.
I only share this with the hope that it will spare someone from making the decision that Matthew & myself made, & the hope that people who do drink & drive will realize that the dangers are REAL, and the results can be TRAGIC!
That early Summer night for me was just like Matthew’s, & just like any other average 22 year old guy’s. It was a Friday night in early Summer & all my friends were home from College. I had just gotten an internship for a well known local company, & I was going out to celebrate. I was also, like Matthew, secretly suffering from depression. So when I drank, I drank heavily just to feel good.
I met my friends at our favorite local bar & drank heavily until it closed. There was nothing unusual about this night yet, just another night out on the town. In fact, it had become so normal for me that the thought of me getting behind the wheel in my condition was always an afterthought. Sure I had seen all the MADD advertisements & heard about the countless tragedies involving drunk driving, but as always I was sure that it would never happen to me.
When the bar closed I did what I had done several times before. I got into my car with the full intention of driving home, little did I know that I wouldn’t make it this time. At around 2:00 in the morning, less than a mile from my house, I was so drunk that I fell asleep at the wheel. Miraculously I somehow swerved avoiding a white SUV (I have no memory of it,) went off the road, & crashed into a fence & telephone pole.
I have no memory of the accident, and I don’t even remember anything about me driving. My next memory was of the fire department prying my door open to get me out. Fortunately I was not seriously injured, however as I would find out the next day I was lucky to be alive, and I was not the only one.
That white SUV that I almost struck head on was of course driven by someone. A woman with a husband & two children. That night I could have killed an innocent wife, & mother. That night, I could have been Matthew Cordle.
I thank God every day for the fact that he spared me that night, but I thank God even more for the fact that I didn’t kill her. The mistakes that Matthew & I made may have had different outcomes, but they almost turned out exactly the same.
The fact is that Matthew is in jail right now for a crime that countless people commit every day. He did the exact same thing that I did, the only thing that was different was the tragic outcome. Which is exactly the point that I am trying to make.
The point of me sharing this story is this. Life is sacred! Call it luck or a miracle, but the only reason I am not in jail right now is because I was fortunate enough to not have killed an innocent person. Sadly for everyone involved, Matthew was not as fortunate.
So for all those reading this who drink & drive, or may be tempted to drink & dive, please heed the warnings of those who have been through it & don’t do it! I am very fortunate that it did not take another senseless tragedy for me to learn my lesson, but it almost did!
I will NEVER drink & drive again because of it, and nobody else should learn this way or especially Matthew’s way either. If you need help, reach out & get it. Putting someone’s life in danger is the most selfish thing a person could ever do. I know because I did just that. When you get behind the wheel after drinking, then that is exactly what you are doing! Think before you act and please don’t ever drink & drive!