'I destroyed three families' - FOX 13 News

'I destroyed three families'

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(Durrell and Bondi speak to students at Chamberlain High School) (Durrell and Bondi speak to students at Chamberlain High School)
(Matthew Durrell in court) (Matthew Durrell in court)
(The scene of the crash) (The scene of the crash)
(Headlines after Durrell's sentencing) (Headlines after Durrell's sentencing)
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Eighteen years ago, Matthew Durrell's life changed in an instant. For three of his friends, life ended altogether.

Mother's Day weekend in 1995, Durrell took his friends on a joyride and slammed into a tree.

Alan Vantine, 20, Frank Ildefonso, 19, and Jill Cook, 19, were all killed in the crash.

"I always said it would never happen to me. It turns out, you know, one poor choice and it did happen to me," Durrell said.

In court, Durrell pled guilty to drinking, drugs and manslaughter. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. At the hearing, Jill Cook's father said their family was devastated.

"For 14 months and four days and 11 hours, my wife and I have been non-existent. Our lives have been without meaning or cause. Jill was our only child," Jerry Cook said.

Now, Durrell is a free man, and he's talking to teens about the dangers of drinking and driving with help from an unlikely person -- the prosecutor who sent him to prison, Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi.

"Matt got out of prison and decided that he wanted to change his life and he wanted to tell kids so nothing would happen to them like what happened to him. And more importantly, what happened to his three friends," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says.

"It's not about what I went through. It's about what I put a lot of people through. I destroyed three families," Durrell said.

He now hopes others will learn from his mistakes, and ultimately save lives.

"I like to think that maybe we at least get through to a couple of the kids, kind of bringing some good to something that was really terrible," he says.

While Durrell was in prison, Bondi was telling his story to high schoolers and college students. Since his early release in 2008, they've been warning students together about the consequences of driving while drunk or on drugs.

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