November 01, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 82, Issue 4

Man's tragedy serves as lesson to students at DUI event

by Vince Schiano

Have you ever been at a party and voted that whoever is the least drunk person among your friends was the one to drive home for the night?

Mark Sterner, once a typical college student, was one night voted the most sober in his group of friends”however, Sterner and his buddies didn't make it home safely that night.

I'm not here to preach to you, I'm just trying to keep everyone here from doing something that they'll regret for the rest of their lives, Sterner recently told more than 100 students gathered in the multi-purpose room in the Gallagher Center. The speaker discussed his encounters with driving under the influence and warned of its dangers.

Three of Sterner's best friends and fraternity brothers were killed in an automobile accident on the last night of their college spring break. The crash occurred after Sterner had been drinking and he chose to drive himself and his friends home. The car veered off the side of the road after losing control and eventually fell into a ditch.

Had we been wearing seatbelts, we all would have probably made it, Sterner said.

According to Sterner, losing three best friends was awful enough, but the nightmare was only beginning. After finally becoming conscious after a week out of it, he heard the news of his friends' mishap. Sterner was then read his Miranda Rights and was in the process of being convicted for DUI manslaughter, considered a violent crime punishable for up to 45 years in prison.

For three years, Sterner served in a maximum security prison in Florida, where he worried for his life.

The NU event was sponsored by NUSGA and the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

I heard that it was going to be a powerful performance, but I didn't realize just how powerful it was going to be, said Jessica Bialkowski, a sophomore at Niagara University. You could see everyone's eyes in the room were focused on him “ no one was distracted.

Rebecca Ellis, a senior at Niagara, had heard Sterner speak before, but returned anyway. I saw him when I got the opportunity to go to Connecticut with the Panhellenic Council of Niagara University last year and I cried at how moving his story is. Seeing it a second time still brought goose bumps! she exclaimed.

Students in attendance at Sterner's talk who wish to provide feedback can submit their responses to www.marksterner.com.

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