September 9, 2013

The amount of people who reached out to my family and myself in support and to share their own story truly has touched my heart. Something I never expected was messages from victims of DUI and their families saying the video helped them heal or bring closure to the void that was left in their own tragedies. The strength and forgiveness of others is what kept my own convictions in tact and gave me the ability to carry out what I had set to do.
The grand jury finally came down with my indictment 6 days after the video was released and with my dad at my side, I surrendered myself to Franklin County Correctional Center on September 9th, 2013. -Matthew Cordle

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Releasing the video

I reached out to “Because I said I would” and the founder, Alex Sheen, responded immediately. He expressed his sympathy and wanted to get to know me and more about the situation before moving forward. He became somewhat of a mentor to me and more importantly, a friend that I desperately needed. He challenged me to face my feelings and warned me of possible outcomes from what we were hoping to accomplish, although I don’t think either of us could have seen the impact would be made. We agreed that the best way to reach people was to share my first hand circumstances and what I had done. The video was edited and scored because the senseless loss of life deserves time and effort. The video was released on September 3rd, 2013 and within 48 hours had 2 million views. In the media craze that followed were both were contacted by every major new station, all the way up to the producers from Oprah. We really never imagined this, maybe it would make news in Columbus we had thought. Alex has been in contact with one Vincent Canzani’s daughter throughout all of this. She asked that I not take part in any media interviews through the duration of the legal process and I promised I wouldnt because notoriety was not what it was about. The message of the video is what was and still is important. -Matthew Cordle

Isolation

I was isolated out in a house my family owns along the river so I had a lot of time to think to myself. When my family and friends would come to check on me I usually would pretend I was preoccupied and pray they would leave quickly. I couldn’t face them. I was taking my prescribed anxiety and pain medication at the time, way over the recommended amount because I didn’t want to face myself. All the while the feeling that I was going down the wrong path was growing in my heart and mind. My own family seemed to be breaking under the pressure of what I had done and I began thinking that if my family feels this way, what kind of hell Vincent’s family and loved ones must be going through. I couldn’t shake that thought and then asked myself, what is more important, how many years I spend in prison or my life and my soul for the rest of my days? The answer was clear to me, forget the legal side of this tragedy and the right thing was simple and always right in front of me. After I told my family about my decision to simply take responsibility and plead guilty, we sought out a lawyer who was a friend of the family and I knew I could trust. They contacted the prosecutor’s office and still weeks went by with no charges. A new emotion began to take hold in me and I was filled with desire to take all of this pain I had caused, and turn it into something that could hopefully open people’s eyes. To see what I didn’t. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and in the weak state I was in I desperately need guidance. -Matthew Cordle

Still wondering why I wasn’t charged right away?

I want to continue now with some of the events that followed the crash and I will try to get back into my mindframe at the time. It may be jumbled so I ask that my sister helps by adding her point of view to explain situations better and even filling in things that I may have forgot. I may be repeating myself but the first thing after waking up I just remember seeing the faces of my family around me and I knew that what had happened was real. I’ll never forget what their faces looked like, a mix of unconditoional concern but more so I could read anger and resentment in their eyes. I had tested them again and again by not being the man I should have been and I felt in that moment that I was forsaken. The emotions are simply impossible to describe but I dont think I was capable of truly grasping how much suffering I had caused and felt numb. I said many times that it felt like I was on a different planet, lost, disconnected. My sister offered to let me recover at her house and my mother had flown in to help take care of me. The first few weeks passed by in a fog. I was unsure why they hadn’t charged me yet and felt despicable walking around, it seemed like people could see right through me. Fear and self-preservation were in my mind and I met with lawyers in hope of escaping prison time. The laywers wanted me in treatment, which I did, and wanted to bring in “experts” to refute the blood tests and say the procedure, testing, etc were faulty. I’m not knocking the lawyers though, it is their job to defend their client and I was the one asking them to get me out of this mess. For some reason, I still wasn’t charged with the crime but I see it as fate, it gave me time to realize what I had to do. When I was in alcohol treatment, the lawyers had asked me not to reveal to much about the crash because there was a chance some of the other patients or even counselors could be subpoened. So I was in treatment to deal with these issues but I couldn’t talk about them, at that point I knew the route I was taking was wrong. -Matthew Cordle

 

When Matt really woke up for the first time in the hospital and we were all standing around him, there were a lot of emotions. He is right in what he said and must have read it on our faces. We all love him so much it hurts, but at the same time he did something so terrible that none of us condone. My family is extremly close though and we all stick by each other no matter what. That’s what family means. We realized he was going to be (physcially) okay and panic mode set in. Many family meetings happened at the hospital, my house and over the next month as we tried to figure out what to do next. I would be lying if I didn’t encourage Matt to figure out a way out of this, use the law in his favor, get the most expensive lawyer. It was all for selfish reasons. We still don’t know why Matt wasn’t immediately arrested. Honestly after a month had gone by I seriously started to question if maybe they had forgotten? Maybe he wouldn’t be arrested? I would like to think my family is well educated so we knew better…..but had we not known I would have really thought that Matt had “gotten out of this mess”. Staying at my house I could see Matthew going thru many emotions. We all were. I started finding myself wanting to know more about Vincent and his family. Matt went to an outpatient rehab facility, my father drove him everyday. But hes right, it was pointless. He couldn’t talk about anything, which only frustrated and angered him. After spending a few weeks at my house, he moved up to our families river house. Although he was alone….we called him everyday and my grandparents stopped by everyday to check on him. He was just in state of limbo at this point.- Sarah Alasya (sister)  

 

Because I said I would

because I said I would
I want to explain something to everyone who has questions about it. Lately a lot of people have been writing to me and asking me why I chose Because I said I would to make the video with me. When I sent the message to Alex Sheen, I was already aware of the things he had done to better society and raise awareness. The most notable event was where he walked across Ohio to raise funds and awareness for the three incredible women held captive by Ariel Castro. He also raised enough money to send one hundred children with cancer to Disney World. When I saw the media surrounding these events I saw a man whose motivation wasnt notoriety or wealth but a desire to better the world. At the point I was at in dealing with my own guilt and despair, I somehow knew I could trust Alex and would defer to what he thought was best. The first time I spoke with him I knew I had placed my faith in the right person as we had a similar mindframe as to what would make an impact. I told him about the tragedy and together we came up with a plan to create awareness, prevent others and hopefully make some sort of difference so others won’t choose the same path I did. We spent a short time together but we were of the same mind when it came to the video and our conviction to see the promise through. No matter what was thrown at us. It was a lifetime of emotions in a very short time and there isn’t a better person I could have picked to keep me forward and help me through it. Because I said I would is trying to create a bridge to a better world.- Matthew Cordle

Lessons Learned

I received a very thoughtful card from Mr. Canzani’s ex-wife. It still blows my mind of her strength and ability to forgive me after what I have done to her and her loved ones, she is truly an amazing woman. She included a photo of Vincent and I have to admit that it made my heart sink and is difficult to look at. Seeing him look so vibrant and full of life is a struggle knowing I am the one who robbed him of it but I know it is part of the healing process. I placed the photo in my photo album because in a way I feel very close to him, yet I barely know anything about him. His friends and family have graciously offered to tell me about him. This tragedy has not only saved my life, but taught me a lesson about the love and forgiveness of those who I have hurt and it shows the true strength of humanity. To those out there who may be similar to me in regards to substance abuse or mental health issues my best words of advice is to do the best you can to take care of yourself day-to-day because one moment of complacency is all it takes to lose everything….keep moving forward. -Matthew Cordle

Moving to parent prison….

I’ve finally moved from CRC (correctional reception center) to my parent institution at PCI (pickaway correctional institution) where I will serve my remaining time. PCI is relatively small so it is hard to comprehend spending the next several years of my life in such a confined state but I know it is something I have to endure. I am participating in a year-long alcohol and substance abuse recovery program called OASIS (Our awareness of self increases success) that will help me take a look at my actions and behaviors and how they truly effect those around me. It is a structure based environment and I am hopeful that it will enable me to confront some of the inner demons so I can lead a health and productive life. It is still very difficult to comprehend being incarcerated for 6 1/2 years but I am able to stay positive if I just focus on bettering myself day-to-day. I have an amazing support system in my family, girlfriend, and friends. I wouldn’t be able to stay positive without them. Prison is mostly a mental battle with yourself daily. There is a lot of negativity; drugs, alcohol, violence, sexual violence, gang activity, and basically anything else you can imagine. Fortunately I am removed from such things in the OASIS community and stay mentally strong and aware to not give in to all of the negativity, though some days it is very difficult. – Matthew Cordle

Unusual post tonight

I was hesitant to post this letter I received from Matthew…..but now that some time has passed and currently he is in a better state of mind than when he wrote me this letter, I feel strongly that I should share it. It is real and raw. I have to post the good with the bad. Matt is extremly close with both our paternal grandparents. He lived with them and he and my grandma have a very special bond. Matthew has let the world in to see who he truly is and with that comes up and downs. This letter was written after being at CRC on 22 hour lockdown for many weeks. He is at Pickaway prison now and in a better place mentally……

Prison is no place to spend your life. Ive only been here for about four months now and I am already breaking down. Going through the holidays was rough and knowing that I have to do it many times over before I am free is an unbearable thought. I constantly remind myself why I am here but no matter how positive I try to stay, it is only a matter of time before this place tears me down. I had a dream about my grandma which summed things pretty well. The house was completely dark and I found my grandma on the ground unable to get up and very confused and afraid. For some reason, I couldnt get her up and she continually kept saying that someone was at the window trying to get in and hurt her. I tried to tell her that no one was there but then I couldn’t speak which only made her much more alarmed. Next thing I know there was a man by the window and he started walking towards her. With all of my might I pushed him but anytime I got near him he swatted me away. The closer he got to her the more she started to cry and call out for me but I couldn’t stop him no matter how hard I tried. I’ve never felt so helpless.

I woke up from that dream with tears in my eyes and I still cant get past this sickness in my stomach. My loved ones are out there, and I can do nothing for them. My grandparents are two of the most precious people to me and theres a strong possibility that I will never see them again as a free man. That thought alone is almost enough to do me in without all the other hardships of prison. I said that I would walk out of prison a better man. Today I feel that is hopeless. I feel this is no place to become a better man. I’m so sorry Vincent.- Matthew Cordle

 

Waking up in the hospital

I yelled at the nurses to give me painkillers, part from the pain but mostly because I just wanted everything to go away after hearing that I caused a fatal accident. They gave me a shot of fentanyl and I slipped into unconsciousness. I woke up and knew that what I had hoped was a nightmare, was in fact reality. The looks on the faces of my family told me what I never wanted to know, that I had killed someone. My family didn’t know who I had killed and the nurses also didn’t know, or they weren’t saying. My mind raced as to who it was, or how many people? A whole family? The thoughts were overwhelming, reality didn’t seem so real anymore, like I’d imagine you felt if someone told you that you were a robot and your memories were fake. It felt like a sick joke and all I wanted to do was not exist. The commandments say “Thou shall not kill” for a reason and I now knew why all to well. The insurmountable guilt was more than I could handle on that day I wished I never woke up. – Matthew Cordle

Sarah’s (sister) account of June 22, 2013

grant hospital

 

I want to dedicate this to everyone who helped that night…bystanders, police, victims, rescue workers at the crash site and everyone at Grant Hospital. Thank You. I can tell you one thing, I haven’t slept thru the night since Matt’s wreck, I constantly check my cell phone throughout the night. My phone was on silent that night. I awoke to my husband on his cell phone saying “what hospital? we are leaving now”. I thought it was one of my grandparents at first. My dad had just left that morning with my stepmom and youngest brother and sister for vacation. My mom lives in Nevada. My husband informed me Matt had been in a car wreck. We quickly put on some sweats and got in the car. I called my dad back to ask what had happened. He said Matt had been in a bad car crash, that the hospital called him and said he was in critical condition but ok and conscious. He hit someone else. I asked how the other person was? And my dad choked out that he think they had died. Other than that we had no details. Was anyone else in the car? Were there other cars? Who died? Where did this happen? And the question we didn’t want to say outloud-was there alcohol involved? We got to the hospital and immediately went to the ER where we were greeted by a wonderful social worker (and I wish I knew her name now as she was so helpful and calming). She told us the police were in with my brother and we could not see him until they were finished. I didn’t even know what questions to ask at this point. Only a few minutes later two cops walked out and approached us. They told me they believed my brother to be intoxicated and took a blood sample. They had his license and said it was suspended pending investiagation.They told me my brother had gone the wrong way on the highway, hit another car and the other person died. The cops didn’t know too many details as they had come with my brother to the hospital. Looking back, they were not friendly and very cold at the time…..but once I processed it all, I understand now….what they had just seen had to be horrifying. Looking back I am also very glad neither of my parents were there. No parent should have to go thru that, and no child should ever do that to their parents. I went in with the social worker to see Matthew. My husband stayed in the hall as we didn’t know what to expect or want to upset him. You could smell the stench of gasoline walking into the ER. As soon as he saw me he began to scream and cry. He kept saying “I killed someone” over and over….and that it should have been him. I stared at him in disbelief. I feel I am usually pretty good and level-headed in chaotic situations. I felt numb. Staring at my baby brother who was covered in blood, gravel and gas, injured, sobering up to the reality of what he had done. I didn’t know what to say or what to think. Was I mad? Was I glad he was alive? Did I want to punch him or hug him? I am so grateful for the social worker because she knew all the right things to say to him and myself. They made me leave as he was getting to worked up and transferred him to ICU as he has multiple serious injuries. My husband called my Dad as I gathered Matt’s things, rummaging thru them for some kind of clue. It was 4am Ohio time. Within the next hours, my sisters showed up, I had a few break downs, my dad jumped on a flight home, I had to call my mom and tell her what happened. She got a flight home. Our minds were racing with what to do next, what will happen? He kept asking us who he had killed. At this point nobody knew and/or would tell us. They had to notify the family first. As I started to process everything, I realized how sick I was at what my brother had done….but yet how thankful I was he was alive. Seeing him first in the ER, I honestly thought there was a chance he wouldn’t be okay. Looking back I now know there is a reason he is alive. He will prove it to the world. Just watch and see. Follow his journey.
R.I.P Vincent Canzani. -Sarah Alasya