Frater Continues to Make an Impact
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Frater Mark Sterner (Tau-Mu, Johnson & Wales Univ.), who killed three of his fraternity brothers in a 1994 drunk-driving car accident, encouraged members of Middle Tennessee State University’s Greek community to refrain from driving under the influence during a speech last week. Sterner travels to campuses around the country talking about his experience. If you would like to have him at your university, contact CampusSpeak to bring him in.
Fraternity and sorority members were required to attend “Greek Speak-Out,” which was held only a few days before spring break, to hear Sterner’s message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Sterner was convicted of three counts of felony manslaughter, and spent three years of his life in a maximum security prison in Florida. At the time of the accident, he was a student at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.
Sterner’s account of what happened that night began with a videotape filmed the last night of his spring break in Sanibel Island, Fla. The video showed Sterner and his friends drinking, dancing and seemingly having a good time at local bar.
Sterner crashed while driving four friends back to the group’s rented condominium.
“Because I drove that night, I killed my best friends,” Sterner said. “It’s going to be with me every single day until I die."
He said the outcome of the accident should have been different.
“I was the one driving the car,” he said. “I’m the one that should be dead – not my friends.”
The auditorium was completely silent while Sterner told his story. When he concluded his presentation, there was a long line of people waiting meet him.
Lisa Shores, senior political science major and president of Lambda Theta Alpha, said she was emotionally drained after watching the presentation.
“I thought it was very moving, but also disheartening to see that one choice can fracture so many lives,” Shores said. “For me, it really hit home.”
Sigma-Omicron Chapter Prytanis Corey Jeacock said that watching Sterner’s presentation was extremely difficult for him.
“It was very heartfelt,” Jeacock said. “Especially, since he was a [fraternity] brother of ours.”
Sterner said he was willing to relive the worst night of his life if it meant he could save someone from experiencing his pain.
“People say time heals all wounds,” Sterner said. “It’s not true – not these wounds anyway.”
Angela King, director of Greek affairs, said she thinks Sterner is unique.
“He was a college student with his whole life ahead of him, like many students he felt invincible,” King said. “He didn’t think that this would ever happen to him.”
To date, Sterner has spoken to more than 2.5 million students, traveling to more than 100 colleges per year. He has been a keynote speaker for multiple organizations, including Northeastern Greek Leadership Association, CHAMPS Life Skills, the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network’s General Assembly and the Mid-American Collegiate Health Association’s conference.
“If you can get a group of college students quiet for 40 minutes, then you must be doing something right,” Sterner said.
Adapted from an article in Sidelines, the student newspaper at Middle Tennessee State University. Be sure to follow the latest TKE News with the RSS Feed, on Twitter or the official TKE Facebook Fan Page (Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity).