On June 21st, 2020 I woke up in Flathead County jail with no recollection of how I had ended up there. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell, and I was filled with fear and anxiety as I tried to piece together how I had ended up in there.

I had a very typical upbringing- I grew up in Tucson, AZ where I attended high school. I played three varsity sports and dedicated my time between athletics and academics as I prepared for college. In 2018 I began my freshman year at ASU. College was a big adjustment as I learned to live alone and balance my social and academic life. Throughout college I spent most of my time studying and working. When I wasn’t doing either of those things I was enjoying my newfound freedom with friends, often drinking. I had started drinking alcohol my final year in high school, but rarely had the time or resources for it. By the time I began college, I found a culture of heavy drinking woven into the fabric of nearly all social events, a culture I fully embraced.

I never let drinking get in the way of classes or work, but by my second year at ASU I found myself spending significant amounts of time getting drunk with friends. It felt like a fundamental part of college and an easy way to destress from the week of hard studying. Outside of some of the negative physical and mental effects (hangovers and anxiety) it never felt like drinking was a detriment to my life.

When the Covid lockdowns began, I no longer had friends to drink with, so I continued the same drinking habits in the comfort of my own house- it seemed like a common trend among my friends so I saw no issue it. June 20th, 2020 was a night filled with particularly heavy drinking, so much drinking, in fact, that I ended up blacking out. A black out occurs when alcohol is consumed to such a level that your brain stops creating memories. In other words, someone will continue to do things, and have absolutely no memory of it the following day. Not to be confused with passing out, which is drinking to excess and then falling asleep.

Once I had entered a black out, I had gotten into a car and driven over 10 miles from my house, where I eventually veered off the road and crash into a house. I had crashed into a bedroom where a man was sleeping. The walls collapsed on the bed and he was crushed by the car and rubble. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. At the same hospital I had my blood drawn, which later showed a BAC of .34, over four times the legal limit to drive (although being

20 at the time it was illegal to drive with any mount of alcohol in my blood). I was then taken to jail and booked on the charge of vehicular homicide while under the influence, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years in the state of Montana.

I spent the next two weeks in jail until I was bailed out after my parents put their house up as collateral for my bail, I was given an ankle monitor that continuously monitored alcohol intake. If I drank again I would be arrested and sent to jail. I spent the summer before my junior year of college at a rehab facility, mostly trying to make sense of what my life had become. In many ways life as I knew it was over. I would forever have to live with the pain and guilt of having killed another human being, while facing the possibility of decades in prison.

I was fortunate to graduate from ASU the following year, prior to sentencing. I was sentenced on January 6th, 2022 to a term of 20 years with 16 years suspended at Montana State Prison. My sentence meant I would spend up to four years at state prison before a 16 year probationary period. This meant after release from prison, if during any time before my 42nd birthday I violated a term of probation, I would likely be sent back to prison to finish the remainder of up to 16 years of my sentence.

Prison is an environment no one should hope to find themselves in. Generally, it’s hundreds of dangerous individuals housed together in very close quarters. Drug use and violence is rampant, and people may go months, years, or a lifetime without ever seeing a loved one. You are completely removed from society, while attempting to survive a social structure that brings out the worst in people. Your life stops while the world continues to go on.

In March of 2023 I was fortunate to have been granted parole from Montana State Prison. I was released to a halfway house in Montana where I was to spend the next year. I currently reside at the halfway house. I hope to be allowed to return to Arizona upon approval by the department of corrections. I will spend the next 18 years under supervision, where any action deemed a violation of my conditions means a return to prison and a reinstatement of my prison sentence.

Not one day goes by where I don’t contemplate my actions the night I caused the fatal car crash. I will continue to regret my actions for the rest of my life, actions that could have been avoided if I had adopted healthier, smarter drinking habits, or if I had not used alcohol at all. Please learn

from my mistakes, don’t drink and drive, don’t drink to the point of losing memories, and don’t put your life or the lives of others at risk over something so avoidable.

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Tommy LeFevre

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