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Drinking and Driving

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The following are comments from some of the key players in the documentary and reflections by a group of college students at St. Anselm College after a presentation by Tom Boyle.

Judge Edwin Kelly
Tom Boyle
The Colgan Family
Prosecutor John Stephen
Student Reactions

Student Reactions

By Katie Skidd
I attended a lecture the other night for all the wrong reasons. I was offered extra credit if I attended this lecture and wrote on it; that was my motivation. I went into the lecture hall and saw three men before the audience, all very sophisticated and proper looking in their dark suits. However, this lecture was more than I expected. Not only did it change my understanding of the possible hazards of alcohol, but I think that anyone and everyone who attended were moved remarkably by Thomas Boyle, one man's story.

A man began to speak and I was aware of the two men leaving simultaneous; everything seemed formal. He continued speaking hypothetically about some man, on some night, killing some other guy due to consumption of alcohol. This didn't seem very touching, but just then a state trooper walked in the back escorting a man in green jail clothes. I think my heart stopped at that moment as I turned to stare. Here was a prisoner, someone from jail. I remember having little to no sympathy for this man, after all., he was a prisoner for some reason, but then he began to tell his story.
Thomas Boyle stood up in front of all of us and told us about his life; the good life he was living. He spoke so emotionally and repeated important ideas and things that he has achieved so that we could understand what kind of guy he was. He told us of his good grades that he worked for, and the secure job he got out of them. Thomas Boyle told us about the BMW he drove and how he was on top of the world, for he had the world at his finger-tips. He was a well respected man that made good decisions; he always made the right choices and everyone turned to him when they had a problem; people trusted him. He stated, "Life was good....really good." During this "good life" he met up with some old time friends and had a few beers, then a few more. Somehow, those few beers never were too many; and on the way home he stopped at a bar, and again he was just leaving when some guys started joking around with him. He stayed to enjoy their company...next thing he knew, he was waking up on a cot with an "intimidating" trooper looking over him.

Thomas Boyle never remembered getting in his car, no more than he remembers that there was someone else in the car with him. Unfortunately, that man did not survive. Thomas was arrested for manslaughter because on the way home he was driving at speeds from 98-102 mph. He told us about his life and how it fell apart after that. He was sentenced to 4-8 years, which was a blessing because the lawyers were expecting 8-16. He recalled them rejoicing at his luck of only 4-8 years and remembers it suddenly hitting him that he was going to be locked up for 4-8 years of his life, and that was lucky. Thomas told us of his two young children who now go about their day with absence of their father. he told us about his wife divorced him after 6 months and how he can't blame her. He said that "some lessons are too costly. In fact, you're lucky if you live though it." Thomas mentioned that his life's experiences ripples out and seems to ripple out even today.

 His mistake has affected so many people, and now he uses it in hopes to effectively affect other. As he watched his perfect world disintegrate under his fingertips, while he sat in prison unable to do anything about it, he found God. He had gone from thinking he had total control to no control in the matter of one night's mistake, for he made a mistake that he could not fix. His perfect impression of jail was when he was handed a little green vile; every prison gets disinfected. He gained respect for being smart and playing a fair game of basketball, and he didn't give grief to anyone. There are so many horror stories of jail and being in a group of 24 other men, 18 of which were in for life and many had been there for 15 years or more was probably a scary thing to walk in on. After all, Thomas was not a street smart man, he was a business man that took one step too far. He was scared and alone. His wife left him and he only got to see his two small children once every three weeks for an hour and a half. He figured that out to be 24 hours or one day a years.

The most effective part of listening to Thomas speak of his story was when he used names. He spoke of his little girl Natalie and his boy, Alex. He spoke of his wife that he fell in love with in college and he really touched me. It was so clear how such things can really affect one's life. But Thomas didn't end his story there. For he is fully aware of where some of the ripples have upset calm waters. Not only did he kill a man in his car that night, but he killed a man he knew; he took away the son of two parents he knew. A sister is without her brother, and every day 5 years old Matthew lives without his father. The man he killed on February 17, 1994 was Brian Colgan at the age of 34. Thomas was 34 as well, and grew up in the same town, For once Thomas was facing a problem that he couldn't fix; the death of a friend.

Thomas came to speak to use to teach us of his lesson in hopes to save us from learning it the hard way, and to protect us from not having the chance to survive in order to learn. It is common to hear alcohol related accidents. 30% of the fatalities in New Hampshire are alcohol related. Out of the 45,000 motor vehicle accidents per year in the US, 17,000 involve alcohol. These are all facts, but what we don't realize is that as there are some that are truly violating the law deliberately, there are some that are innocent, good people that made one big mistake. Thomas Boyle opened my eyes to the fact that what happened to him can happen to anyone, no one is invisible.

I'd like to thank Thomas Boyle for sharing his experience, and St. A's for arranging this wonderfully enlightening lecture, and all the people it took in order to arrange for Thomas' absence from prison, (the attorney, the trooper, and the Colgan family, without their consent it would not be possible). I think that this is one of the most effective ways of getting to teenagers that things like this can't happen to them. There is a false understanding that "bad people" go to jail, but, good people make mistakes too and they get punished just like everyone else.
Katie Skidd

 By Laura Gerich
"This is reality; it happened almost on a weekly basis," stated John Steven's, a member of the homicide Team in New Hampshire for nine years. John Steven's was  speaking of alcohol related accidents, In the State of New Hampshire, 30% of all fatalities are alcohol related accidents. On February 17, 1994, Brian Colgan was a victim of an alcohol related accident as Thomas Boyle crashed his carat speeds in excess of 100 mph into a Concord City snowplow.
 Thomas Boyle was an "average" kid growing up. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire, where he majored in economics, and soon after graduation he began working for the legislature in the State on New Hampshire. Things were going well for Thomas Boyle when he married his wife, Joellen, and soon after had two children. He opened and ran a business with his father which began doing very well. Thomas Boyle's life was grand and magical; he drove nice cars, had a nice house, vacations in the Caribbean, etc. He was able to come, go, and do whatever he pleased. 

Thomas Boyle's life was changed forever as he drove intoxicated at speeds in excess of 100 mph and crashed his car into a snowplow which killed the passenger of his car, Brian Colgan. That was February 17, 1994. On November, 1997, Thomas Boyle stood in Perini lecture hall speaking of his experience as he is currently serving 4-8 years for manslaughter. Thomas Boyle was a loyal husband, father of two wonderful children, well-known businessman, and an overall highly respected individual. He was a man who once had complete control of his life and now has none; he lost it all in the blink of the eye.

Life in prison is what Thomas Boyle considers "dehumanizing." Upon entrance to prison the inmates are stripped, searched, and disinfected. He now does what he his told; there are no more choices in his life. After spending six months in prison, his wife divorced him. He currently is allowed to see his children 1 1/2 hours; overall, this is 24 hours per year. Thomas Boyle's life now is about loneliness and misery; there is no joy.

Thomas Boyle's lecture was extremely thought provoking, yet at the same time very interesting. He sent out a very important message to all people, it doesn't matter if you are young or  old, cool or uncool, successful or unsuccessful...an individual's ability to make choices  declines even with just one alchoholic drink. A tragedy such as this one is not something an individual; can go back and fix.

 By Michael Carone
Don't drink and drive, is a much more powerful message, when spoken by someone who had their life destroyed as a result. To see someone in prison clothes, and know that after the speech you'll go home, and they will go back to a cell brings to light the harsh reality that it only takes one mistake to throw your life away. The speaker, was a college graduate, with several successful business, yet he found his way to prison because of one mistake.

The speech started with a brief introduction by the assistant attorney general, and then the prisoner was escorted in by a state trooper. You could sense the tension as this stranger in prison clothes was let lose to speak. His first words were spoken loudly, "Some lessons in life you'll hopefully never learn the way, like I did." With that statement, everybody's eyes seemed focused, and interested in what might happen next, As the speech went on, you began to learn this prisoner's tale, and fear of this convict turned into compassion. I am sure that everybody in the room was thinking what I was thinking, this guy is just like me.

 Later the assistant attorney general said that hey changed their approach to drunk driving. Instead of showing you graphic pictures, of drunk driving victims, which illustrated merely how deadly drunk driving was, now their message was it can happen to you. It also left me personally with the message that jail is a place I don't want to go. He told of his jail experience and it seemed as though it was truly punishment. It is a waste of time, and life. That night I went home and felt blessed that I was free to do as I choose. I felt badly because I knew I was no better than the guy in the front of the room, but I got to go home and he would go back to jail, and when he gets out the life he knew will have disappeared.

 By Stephanie O’Donnell
Words cannot describe my feelings that surfaced last night about the life and actions of Tom Boyle. "Just One Night" is overpowering my opinions on drinking and driving. I cannot help but think that Tom was and still remains a family man, a hard worker, trustworthy and a truly good man. His life has dramatically transformed due to his actions on one single night.

It was just another ordinary day and night for Tom. He socialized and drank with his co-workers and friends. He was not expecting to get drunk. This night is similar to many nights in which young people all around the world get together to socialize and consume a few drinks. Young people are extremely naive; we think that nothing tragic will happen to us. Tom Boyle is an example that bad things happen to good people.

In my life, I have never driven drunk. Throughout high school, I usually was the designated driver.  I have had experiences where I have fought with loved ones to give me their keys to prevent driving drunk. Sometimes, it was successful, most of the time it failed. Attempting to convince someone not to drive drunk is extremely difficult because one finds it insulting and demeaning. One is convinced that he or she is capable of driving. It's like talking to a wall. it terrifies me that no one tried to prevent Tom from getting behind the wheel.

When I was in eighth grade, my town had a tragic accident. A bunch of seniors (my best friend's brother and his friends) went to Cancun for a senior trip. To make a long story short, everyone had been drinking "one night" and the group decided to go swimming. One of the guys stood up on huge rocks (similar to a quarry) and preceded to dive in. Unfortunately, he did not know that he was diving into a sandbar. He snapped his neck and was immediately paralyzed. He was in a coma for days until his family and doctors decided to let him go. The surprise death devastated the community because he was well known and loved by all. A week later, his friend drank. Why? To deal with the pain and shock? Each year, there is a fund raiser for his scholarship fund, the participants play golf all day and hockey at night. Drinking is considered a must at this annual event. In my opinion, I feel this is a complete disgrace and shows disrespect for an innocent life taken. It absolutely kills me that loss of a special someone does influence the behaviors of others. No one talks about this event in my town. It's like this big secret because there was underage drinking involved. That is one of the reasons I truly respect Tom Boyle. He is out to spread the secret which involves great courage.

 Tom was  very open about his experiences, He knows what he did wrong and has to live with what he did for the rest of his life. He did not know the man he killed and he does not even remember driving the car. that amazes and tariffs me!! I cannot imagine putting my feet in the shoes of Tom Boyle. He spends his like now in New Hampshire State Prison., pacing back and forth in his cell, vividly flashing back to the night when he took an innocent life.

Like other speakers who can talk about their experiences, I give an immense amount of credit to Tom. Although, he mad a mistake, he speaks so that other do not make the same mistake he did. In my mind, that is truly heroic. He brought tears to my eyes when he spoke. He spoke with lament and sorrow, but also with vigor and strength.

Ironically, the Attorney General that prosecuted against Tom and the State Trooper that arrested him were also at the speech last night. John, the Attorney General, graduated from the same college as Tom, just a few years apart. The State Trooper was family friends with the man that died in Tom's car. All men were relatively the same age, married, kids and had a good life. It made them think that this could also happen to them. One does not have to have a long criminal history to drive drunk. It was beneficial to hear about the perspectives and opinions of each individual. The lecture also gave me insight on the justice system and the law again drinking and driving.

Although, a good number of people attended Ton Boyle's speech, I was surprised that more people did not come. I understand that people have other priorities, but this was truly a worthwhile experience. It is a horrible realistic lesson that should be heard because it includes the lives of all people, young and old. I am elated that I took the opportunity to attend because it is an unforgettable story. It will defiantly influence my actions in the future.

By Theresa M. Daley
We learn about obsessions and compulsions, addictions and disorders. We even learn about how to treat people if one of these ever gets a person in trouble. But, what do you do when an upper class businessman has a couple casual drinks during the day and then stops at a bar on the way to his hotel where he has a few too many?
On February 17, 1994 Thomas Boyle went into a bar for a drink and on his way out met a couple guys, so he stayed for a few more. It is legal. He is of the drinking age and he is not an alchoholic, he just did not want to go home to a lonely hotel room. That night he just drank a few too many. It is difficult when you sit in the audience of a speaker you know has been convicted of a crime. I walked into the lecture hall expecting to hear a man speak about the mistake he made, how sorry he was, and how he thought he was okay to drive. When Thomas Boyle came that night in February, he did not know the name of the man he had been with, he did not even know he had gotten in his car to drive home. One begins to wonder if the "Don't Drink and Drive" slogan you have been hearing all your life is necessary. Too often people make the decision not to drive, but then hop in the passenger seat of a car whose driver is of equal if not worse condition.
February 17, 1994 Brian Colgan and his family learned a hard lesson. Brian Colgan died that night in a drunk driving accident. He was not given a second chance to go back and rethink his decision to get in the car with Thomas. I do not fault Brian for his death. Death is a hard price to pay for a mistake, but a lesson can be learned by others from his mistake.
The effect alcohol and others substances have on the body are tough to decipher. There have been studies done that prove a person can not estimate their own blood alcohol level. Thomas made a statement that many people will not admit to, "After your first drink you are impaired and your ability to make good choices declines." He realizes there is nothing he can say or do to fix it now, that is over. He is spending a minimum of four years and a maximum of eight years in prison. In his case it really was, "Just One Night." I believe he did make a mistake that may have been out of his hands. He had consumed such an excess of alcohol that he did not even know he was getting into his car that night. Tom's mistake cost him his freedom. He explained how the experience in prison felt dehumanizing. He missed the death of his mother. Six months into his sentence his wife filed for divorce and over a one year period, he is given twenty-four hours total with his two children. But his mistake also cost him a life which effected hundreds of people. He took a son, a brother, a husband and a father. Thomas fell from high class society and became a criminal that night solely because he drank too much alcohol. In prison there is no joy he stated, just misery and loneliness. I can only assume that in death there is just the same. 
When I walked into the lecture hall last Wednesday night three men sat in the corner. They were all what appeared to be middle aged family men. They were sitting around in nice suits waiting for the program to begin. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about them. They were regular guys. One of the men began to speak and he introduced himself as an assistant  to the district attorney. They must all be lawyers? The other two men walked away and a few minutes later, they came back. One of them was dressed in a uniform from the New Hampshire State Police and the other was dressed as an inmate of the New Hampshire State Prison. The men did not look different because they really were not. Their lives though, diverged in extreme opposites. It just happened that because of  Just One Night of drinking and the truth about one of their lived became a "Fatal Reality."
 When I walked in, had I been told that one of the men was a lawyer, one was a trooper and one was a successful businessman, I would not have thought anything of it, actually that was the truth. The truth is though that those men were all of those professions, but one of them, Thomas Boyle, because of just one night, was also a convicted felon, guilty of manslaughter.
Thomas Boyle along with the trooper that arrested him and the lawyer that prosecuted him, are providing a helpful service with this program. It teaches that drunk driving is not just alcoholics, it does not just kill innocent bystanders, and when we say, "Don't Drink and Drive," it also means Don't Drive with Drunks. Thomas and Brian taught us a good lesson the night of their accident. A person impaired by substance does not always know what they are or to what extent. It is everyone's duty to stay out of cars of people who have been drinking not just the cars of people who we think have had too much to drink. It is okay to argue with a person for their keys. If you feel funny because they're getting mad, it is probably because they have had too much. Take the keys and the person will thank you for it in the morning. Even it they do not say thank you, their life is thanks enough. In order to help the problems our society faces with drunk driving, we need to make positive statements. Rather than condemning alcohol and drunk driving promote life.

By Jessica Bliga
One thought comes to my mind when reflecting upon the speech given by Thomas Boyle, state prisoner on November 5, 1997. The thought is, "Oh my God...this can happen to anyone!" While I sat there in Pereni Lecture Hall goose bumps ran up and down my spine and at moments my stomach filled with intense anxiety and nervousness. Thomas Boyle's true life nightmare had changed the way I think about drinking forever.
The way Thomas Boyle presented his story was quite unique. Boyle didn't expect any pity from the crowd and not once did he tell us not to drink and drive, it was just something that was understood. Although, Thomas Boyle did not shed a tear throughout his two hour lecture, it was apparent that he was dying inside with every detail he gave the audience. At times, for example, when he told about his family leaving him, I felt like crying for him and in fact I had to hold back the tears during some parts of his story. 
When Boyle explained his teenage years and went on to tell about his marriage to his girlfriend of many years, it made me realize that this story could happen to anyone. Thomas Boyle was just a normal everyday guy with the perfect family and the perfect job. Boyle did not go out on February 17, 1994 with the intention of getting wasted and killing 34 years old Brian Colgan and taking a father from a 5 years old boy, it was a tragic event that occurred. Any college student can understand what it is like to go out without the intention of getting wasted, but sometimes you can't control yourself and as a result, tragic things happen.
I have learned many interesting facts about Thomas Boyle's story. One of them being, 30% of fatalities in New Hampshire are alcohol related. Boyle points out that most lessons we learn in life we must experience and learn for ourselves. This I believe to be true. But, in the case of Thomas Boyle, his lesson was too costly. As a result, he will be suffering everyday of his life along with the family of Brian Colgan's. In addition, Boyle also lost his wife and children, Alex and Natalie, because of his inability to make the right decision on February 17, 1994. His story made me realize that some things are not fixable and even though Boyle had always been able to fix things before his accident, this was one even he was not capable of fixing.
 In conclusion, there was one event that took place in his lecture that really moved me. At first when Thomas Boyle was introduced, not a single person in the audience clapped for him. There was no applauding as the convicted felon in his green prison attire walked in front of us, instead, there was a moment of dead silence as heads turned all around to observe the reaction of everyone else. As the lecture progressed, he made the audience feel more comfortable and at the very end while he was walking away, the audience clapped. I know exactly why the attitudes of the audience transformed. Although, it was well stated that the actions Boyle took on that one night in his life were wrong, the whole audience was informed about his constant pain and anguish that will never ever leave him. The way that Boyle is teaching others by his story was worth applauding. 

By Lisa Pratt
One November 5, 1997, I attended a lecture on drunk driving entitled One Fatal Night. I did not think that is was going to be interesting or even worth my time. At eight-thirty I entered Perini Lecture Hall with my psychology notes in hand with the intention to study during this lecture. After a brief introduction by the Attorney General, a man entered the room escorted by a state trooper. He was dressed in prison clothes, a simple green color. This man did not look like a criminal, or even someone who fit the stereotypes of a criminal. He appeared to be very clean looking and somewhat of a decent man. The trooper introduced himself  briefly and then finally introduced us to Thomas Boyle, who is currently serving a four to eight years sentence for manslaughter.
Immediately this man standing in front of me and a room full of approximately thirty or forty others, caught my attention. He introduced himself as Tommy Boyle, a dependable man whom everyone could count on. He had his life made. He graduated from college with a business degree. He met his wife in college and they fell in love. He married her and joined forced with his father and brother to start a business. This business took off and made Tommy and his partners a lot of money. Tommy told us how he had it  made. He had a lot of money, a beautiful house in Vermont, a wife, two children and he was driving the best of cars. Mr. Boyle explained to us what he did everyday and how wonderful his life was.
Then Tom's voice changed and so did his story. He told us about one night in his life that if he could do over, he would. He was at a trade show, and after the trade show he attended a cocktail party. There was always a cocktail party after a trade show. It was like a tradition. The next day, he had to be in Boston for a meeting that could bring in about 30 million dollars into his succeeding business. Tommy did not feel like going home so he called a couple of friends and had a few beers with them. It was only a few, so it couldn't hurt him. Then he went back to their house and had one or two more. After that he was on his way to a hotel, but he decided to stop of for one more beer. He had just one beer at a local bar, but found three guys sitting at the bar and decided to talk to them. They bought each other drinks and were having a few laughs. The next thing Tommy remembered was laying on a gurney with a state trooper standing over him asking him who his passenger was in the car.
Mr. Boyle had driven drunk and had crashed his car into a city truck removing snow off the highway. He had no idea who his passenger was and no memory of that even happening. This was awful. I felt like crying for him because he seemed to be really ashamed of himself. When Tommy told us this without even continuing , I had to put my psychology notes away because I was really intrigued. I did not know how I felt about him, but I felt some form of pity for him. Here standing in front of me was this man who was successful and had it all. And in an instant, his life was changed forever. He was charged with man slaughter and was sentenced to four to eight years served in the New Hampshire State Prison.
 Tommy Boyle had one year left in his minimum. He is divorced and is able to see his children only for an hour and a half every three weeks. He figured that out to be one day a year. He talks about his life and what happened to him in high school and college students in the New Hampshire area. He is a story that shows how alcohol and accidents do not discriminate and that it can happen to the best of people.
After the lecture, although, it did not feel like one, there was a question answer period. Tommy Boyle answered any questions that was asked and did it honestly. I admire Mr. Boyle and how he is dealing with his situation. I hope that he is able to get out of jail next year because he knows what he did wrong, and wants to educate young students about the consequences of drinking and driving. He uses his experiences as a teaching guide and wants to learn from his mistakes so we will not make the same one he did.
I was very touched by this story. I realized that everyone in jail is not necessarily a bad person. Some of them made a mistake in their life and are paying for it. Tommy Boyle is a story that can touch anyone's heart, because it touched mine. 

By Stephanie A. Naoum 
Tom Boyle, 34 years old, a good person, dependable, successful, living a seemingly perfect life-in Just One Night this man's life was changed forever when he crashed his car, killing his own passenger, driving in excess of 100 miles per hour.
Tom stood before us last Wednesday night in his prison clothes. The same officers and prosecutes that had been involved in his case stood next to him as he told his story. He told us about himself, emphasizing the fact that he was just like us. He wanted us to realize that he wasn't a bad person. He had come from a good town with a good family. He had gone to school and excelled. He had graduated and in just ten years had become extremely successful. In describing himself in such a way, Tom Boyle demanded an incredible amount of respect. He was a role model for everyone in the room and the epitome of what one is capable of when you apply yourself. Once he had given a good description of himself, Tom moved on to the day of the accident., describing what he had done and how it had been a day similar to many before it. Again he was telling us that he had not planned to do wrong.
The night of the accident Tom stopped in a bar and had too many drinks. It hadn’t  been intended-he was just socializing and having a few beers. When he left the bar in the middle of the night, he left with the man who became his victim. Tom doesn't remember leaving the bar that night, nor does he remember getting into the car and driving. He awake in the hospital in utter disbelief of what had happened. 
I am tempted to claim that Tom is innocent as to what he had done-I want to say, "He didn't mean to do anything wrong! How can you send a man to jail with hardened criminals?" The point was that Tom made a mistake due to impaired judgement. The legal system doesn't care about the fact that you are a nice guy. They look at the evidence and the evidence sends you to jail.
Tom's message to us wasn't to stay away from alcohol, it was to be smart and realize that being intoxicated impairs your judgement-and that this same scenario can happen to you. Not only do you put your life on the line by driving drunk, you put countless others on the line with you. Foolishness and irresponsibility can cost you your life-in more ways than one.