‘Don’t end up like me’
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL ” Candace Calvin wiped away tears as she told a group of high school students the story of a crash that left her friend dead.
“I had made a bad choice in life,” Calvin said as her voice shook. “Unfortunately, I was not the only one who suffered through my bad decision.”
Calvin, 22, gave a 20-minute talk to students about the harmful effects of alcohol and driving under the influence to four classes at Battle Mountain High School’s library Friday morning. Calvin said she has given “six or seven” speeches at the school since the Feb. 22 roundabout crash at Highway 6 and William J. Post Boulevard that killed 23-year-old Matthew E. Lopez, of Wheatridge.
The court has not ordered Calvin ” who has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide ” to talk to students. Calvin is giving the talks because she wants to help “other kids” and herself “emotionally, so I can try to get through this because right now I’m a wreck,” she said before her presentation.
Weeks ago, Calvin approached Vice Principal Philip Qualman and asked him whether he thought the series of talks would be a good idea, Qualman said.
Allowing Calvin to share her experience with students would help them avoid a similar situation, he said.
“It sounded like a situation that any of our students could get into, or that anybody could get into once they saw how easy it was,” Qualman said.
Students abuse alcohol in high school, Qualman said, but he refused to say whether he thought it was a part of students’ experience at Battle Mountain.
“The bigger question there is (is) do you acknowledge it or ignore it?” he said.
“I’m more inclined to acknowledge it and educate the kids that they need to be responsible,” Qualman said.
Neither Calvin’s lawyer nor the District Attorney’s Office asked Calvin to give the talks, said her mother, Lee Caretto.
“The whole reason we started this is not to kiss ass to the D.A.’s office,” Caretto said.
“It’s not for money, it’s not for the judges and lawyers ” it’s for the love of (Matthew Lopez) and for (Calvin) to heal,” she said.
Caretto hopes that 22-year-old Calvin’s speech will appeal to students near her age, Caretto said.
Nearly 28 hours after a surgery to mend four broken bones in her shoulder, Calvin was in front of the students, reading from a 10-page script. If not for painkillers, Calvin would have read less and made more eye contact with students, Caretto said.
Still, students sat rapt as Calvin sobbed while describing the aftermath of the accident.
Calvin woke up in Denver Health Medical Center with her parents and brother standing over her crying, she told students.
She shattered her pelvic bone in eight places, cracked some ribs, separated her clavicle in four places and got a concussion after she was ejected from her 1996 Honda Accord.
“I will have scars and the horrible memory of my accident that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she told students. “I look back and wish I would have listened, and I would not be here today talking to you about alcohol.”
Calvin assumed that all students had plans for graduation parties, she said.
“Don’t end up like me,” she told students. “Make the right choice.”
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
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