TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi and Special Guest Matthew Durrell spoke at two Tampa Bay area high schools this week to address the dangers of drinking and driving. Attorney General Bondi and Matthew Durrell have a unique friendship and shared passion for preventing drinking and driving, which is based on a prosecution in 1996 that put Durrell in prison when he was 18. When Attorney General Bondi was an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County, she prosecuted Durrell, and he was convicted of DUI Manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing three of his friends while he was driving intoxicated. Now, 17 years later, Attorney General Bondi and Durrell tell his harrowing tale to serve as a lesson to teenagers about the consequences of drinking and driving.
“I am humbled by Matthew Durrell’s courage to share his story that will hopefully prevent many teens from suffering the same, preventable tragedy that he suffered. A hush always overcomes the crowd after I tell my story and Matthew Durrell stands up from sitting among the audience. Putting a face with this horrifying story resonates with the students, and we hope that these talks prevent bad decisions that could cost lives,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“The decisions I made as a teenager, which ultimately claimed three lives and destroyed three families, have haunted me for my entire life. I will always regret that horrible night and tragedy, and I only hope that by speaking to teenagers today, I can help prevent similar tragedies,” stated Matthew Durrell.
“Matthew Durrell was one of our own students in the 90’s. So I anticipate his emotional story and his warnings about the consequences of drinking and driving will have a strong impact on our students,” said Bloomingdale High School Principal Sue Burkett.
“We as teachers and administrators talk to students all the time about the dangers of drinking and driving. But to hear it from someone who went through this tragedy, and whose life has been changed forever, this has the potential to have a powerful impact,” said MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools.
This week, Attorney General Bondi and Matthew Durrell addressed students at Chamberlain High School and Bloomingdale High School.