Because I Said I Would: Drunk Driving’s Family Impact
In June of 2013, Matthew Cordle drove drunk in a black out and killed a man. What Matthew Cordle did next shocked the Nation. Cordle decided he was going to admit his wrongs to the public and be honest about how the accident really happened. He reached out to Alex Sheen, the founder of the now infamous website, Because I Said I Would, and made a video confessing how he killed Vincent Canzani while drinking and driving. Not long after his video went viral on becauseisaidiwould.com, Matt Cordle was taken into custody and plead guilty, keeping his promise to do the right thing. The Judge sentenced him for both counts – driving drunk and aggravated vehicular homicide – resulting in a consecutive 6.5 year sentence. Matthew Cordle’s sister, Paige Cordle, took a moment to share her story with us.
Because I Said I Would: Interview With Paige Cordle
Paige agreed to speak with The Watershed about how her brother’s accident, video confession, and sentencing has affected her and her family.
The Watershed: When and how did you hear about your brother’s accident? Did you know before his Because I Said I Would video went viral?
Paige Cordle: When I first heard about his accident and what he had done, it was about 8:00 am that morning. The accident happened between 2:00 am and 3:00 am I think. I remember it so clearly. I was asleep, so it took several missed calls from my family members until I finally woke up. My mom was the one who told me, and I remember knowing something was definitely wrong because she lives on the west coast so there is a 3 hour time difference. It was 5:00 am her time and I answered the phone and said, “Who died?” She told me what happened and I ran to the living room to watch the news. I’m pretty sure in that moment I was in shock. I just sat in a ball on the floor and cried and then got in the car and drove to Grant Hospital where my brother was in the ICU. I had no details or anything, all I knew was that he was drinking and driving and there was a fatality.
When I first heard about Matt’s (Because I Said I Would) video, I was at school (at the University of Kentucky) and my sister texted me the link to the Because I Said I Would Youtube video (I Killed A Man). I was completely unaware that he was making the video or had even contacted Because I Said I Would, so I had no idea what I was even watching until Matt’s face came into focus. He had more or less kept the actual decision to air the video a secret from my family, although he and Alex Sheen (the founder of Because I Said I Would) had told my dad about their idea to create the (Because I Said I Would) video. I personally think, though am not 100 percent sure, that Matt chose not to tell us because he knew we would try and stop him. We just didn’t understand.
How did the situation affect you and the family?
Paige Cordle: As I said, the (Because I Said I Would) video was a surprise to my family and I, so we all had mixed feelings about it. To be honest, I was angry when I first saw it. I wouldn’t even speak to him at first, but then I realized that what was happening was much bigger than myself and my family – even Matt. We never imagined in a million years that his story would have gotten so much attention; in 48 hours it had over 2 million views from all over the world and was on nearly every major news outlet. It was definitely overwhelming.
How were you and your family treated in the community after he confessed to killing a man on the Because I Said I Would video?
Paige Cordle: Surprisingly, there was an outpouring of support and love from everyone we knew, and even complete strangers. I felt strongly about drinking and driving prior to any of this even happening, so it was unfathomable for me that people were being so empathetic to Matt’s situation. We are, and will always be, grateful for all of those who have supported Matt and my family through all this, but I think it is important for people to remember that Vincent Canzani and his loved ones are the victims here, and that Matt is merely an example of how your entire life can change with one decision.
What are your thoughts about the Because I Said I Would confession video I Killed A Man?
Paige Cordle: I don’t see it as a confession, and I don’t think it was ever intended as a “confession” in the way people think. What many people don’t know is that from the night of the accident on June 22nd, up until September 3rd when the video was published on YouTube, the authorities had not once contacted my brother or our family. My brother was the only suspect, and obviously so because he was pulled from his overturned truck at the scene of the accident. I don’t want to speak for him because I don’t know for sure what the answer to this question is, but I believe he made the video as a way to comprehend what he had done, and the first step in learning how to forgive himself. In terms of a confession, the video was not a confession of guilt as the authorities already knew he was guilty, but more so a confession of responsibility and accountability, if that makes sense. At the end of the day, no matter what my personal feelings are, I can’t help but be proud of my brother, because I have seen with my own eyes the change within himself for the better, and the effect he has had on others.
How will you cope with your brother’s consequences after the Because I Said I Would video?
Paige Cordle: That’s a really hard question, and I’m not sure I know the answer to that. Every day is different; some days harder than others. I go back and forth a lot, being sad and angry and proud. The thing that I find helps me the most in being okay with this entire situation is just being grateful that my brother is alive and I still get to hear his voice.
How are you feeling about this whole situation?
Paige Cordle: As I said before my feelings are very mixed. It’s hard to cope with the knowledge that someone you love has taken the life of another due to something that could have been completely avoided. I’ll admit some days I get selfish and think about what this means for my life and the things I have to sacrifice.
Your brother mentioned in the video that he drinks because he struggles with depression. Is he considering getting help for drinking or depression now?
Paige Cordle: Matt has always had issues with depression, and I think his alcohol use became a coping mechanism as he got older. After he was discharged from the hospital, he participated in an intensive out-patient program. The Pickaway Correctional Institution also offers some inmates the opportunity to attend the OASIS Therapeutic Community (“Our Awareness of Self Increases Self”), Matt is still waiting to see if he will be accepted.
Did your brother ever show signs of having a drinking problem?
Paige Cordle: I think there were definite signs that Matt had a drinking problem. He didn’t necessarily drink more so than the typical 22 year old, but when drunk, he became a much darker person due to his depression. And unfortunately that was a lethal combination.
What is your family’s plan for the future? What is your brother’s plan?
Paige Cordle: My family and I plan to continue supporting my brother and supporting the anti-drinking and driving message. Likewise, Matt plans to devote his efforts to prevent others from suffering the same fate.
Why did he choose to confess on Because I Said I Would?
Paige Cordle: It is hard to say because I had no idea that he had even contacted Because I Said I Would, but I believe that he and Alex Sheen had a genuine connection with each other. Matt has trust in Alex, and the message that Because I Said I Would stands for.
How is Matthew doing now?
Paige Cordle: He is doing really well. So far he seems to be adapting surprisingly well to prison. I can honestly say that I have never seen my brother so positive and motivated before.
If you could tell someone one thing about drinking and driving and your experience, what would it be?
Paige Cordle: It sounds cliché but life really is short. Drinking and driving really has become an epidemic in our society. It shouldn’t take having to experience the consequences first-hand to open our eyes to it, but unfortunately that is the reality. That is why Save Your Victim was created. Save Your Victim is meant to advocate the importance of EVERYONE getting home safely when one makes the decision to get behind the wheel. Our goal is to spread this message and hopefully create a new norm when making decisions. In other words, Save Your Victim is remembering that your actions, however isolated they may seem, have the potential to significantly change the lives of those around you.
What message would you give to someone in your brother’s situation who maybe isn’t yet brave enough to come forward?
Paige Cordle: I don’t really think I have any right to give that kind of advice to someone. If I were in my brother’s shoes, I can’t say for sure that I would have gone about the situation in the same way. It was very courageous of him to go about the situation so publicly, but at the same time, he was just doing what was morally right as a human being.
What have you learned from this situation?
Paige Cordle: Throughout all of this, I have learned not to be so judgmental of others. With all of the media attention on my family and Matt’s situation, my perception of others and our society in general, has changed. There was a lot of misinformation on the internet, and I realized that we often jump to conclusions about situations and people we know nothing about.
Because I Said I Would: What Is Next For Matthew Cordle?
Drinking and driving can be fatal, but easily preventable, which is why Matthew created the Because I Said I Would video. Matthew has stated time and time again that he wants others to learn from his mistake. So, the next time you think about getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking, we hope you think of the honesty and humanity behind the Because I Said I Would confession of Matthew Cordle, but also of the family of Vincent Canzani, coping daily with the unexpected loss of their loved one.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol abuse problem and needs help, call 1-800-853-1614 today.Tags: Alcoholism, because I said I would, College Drinking, Drunk Driving, DUI, DWI, I killed a man, Videos