Mark Sterner will present a hard-hitting personal story of the tragedies that come from drinking and driving when he speaks at William Woods University tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 6).
His talk, titled “DUI: A Powerful Lesson,” will be at 7:30 p.m. in Cutlip Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.
Sterner’s life changed drastically in 1994 when three of his best friends and fraternity brothers were killed in a drunk driving crash during spring break. Sterner was intoxicated at the wheel of the car.
He ended up with three felony manslaughter convictions and spent three years in a Florida prison. He was scheduled to be the first in his family to graduate college. Instead, he was the first member of his family to go to prison.
During their week of spring break, the friends each took a turn as the designated driver. On their final night, they fatefully decided that the “least drunk” among them would
drive. Although Sterner was less drunk than his friends, he was still impaired, and he was
held responsible for the accident and the deaths of his friends.
“Would my friends be married now?” Sterner wonders. “Would they have kids? I don’t know. I’ll wonder ‘what if’ for the rest of my life.”
He doesn’t want others to have to ask themselves the same questions, so Sterner shares his message with high school and college students across the country. To date, he has spoken to more than one million students.
Sterner has received requests to appear on Oprah, Montel, Geraldo, 20/20 and 48 Hours. He has denied these requests for two reasons. One, he feels his presentation is more powerful in person. Two, out of consideration for his friends’ families, Sterner does not want national media attention that might cause them to have to relive the tragedy.
The families of Sterner’s friends have encouraged his efforts to prevent impaired driving and supported his reduced prison sentence so that he could share his story.
Sterner shows a video of the men made during their trip. Images of laughing college kids driving from one bar to the next, downing shots of alcohol, and dancing are followed by still photos of the car after the crash.