Your name: Kristi Vahl
Victims name: Matt Carrington
When I think about everything that has happened, it feels so overwhelming. I intentionally push all the feelings aside on a regular basis so that I can move on with my life, but Matt is always in my mind. And then as I sit here and start to think about it all, it hits so hard, the fact that Matt can’t go on with his life. The fact that he was misled and betrayed by his supposed “brothers” makes me feel physically sick to my stomach. It gives me an unsettling feeling that is incredibly hard to feel and to try to deal with.
Matt has always been family to me. Our parents have been best friends for as long as I can remember and Matt and I spent many of our early years side by side. I have so many lighthearted and youthful memories with him and how he always possessed the perfect balance of shyness and comedy, which could usually keep those around him fairly entertained. Matt always had great ideas and a creative and curious mind in which he pushed my limits and challenged me as a kid to keep up.
While we weren’t quite as close throughout our teenage years as we were when we were kids, Matt was always a good friend. He was one of those very rare individuals that you could always feel comfortable around no matter what. We could go months without seeing or speaking and then (normally through some family gathering) would be able to just pick up right from where we left off. We always had that “first child” bond and we always got along so easily, and had a fun time doing it.
As I’ve told many people, I was so excited when I first heard that Matt had made the decision to go to Chico State to finish off his college career. That town had made me feel at home and I was excited for him to experience the same things that I had. I was excited because I knew we would get to re-spark our friendship and that we would be closer for the rest of our lives because of our shared “ Chico experience”. However, the morning I found out that Matt had passed a way was the morning all that shattered. It was the worst morning and the worst feeling that I had ever felt in my entire 23 years. I still hear the echo of my dad shouting over the phone “Oh god!”. That was all I remember and the feelings that followed that morning still continue to haunt me.
The worst part, in my opinion, is not that these boys were doing something wrong, not that they pushed him past his limit, but that they lied to him. They lied to him and betrayed his trust after he had done nothing but kiss their asses all semester. He was nothing less than a nice guy, a great friend, a positive role model, and future leader. These guys denied him. They promised him he would be safe, yet they misused and abused their apparent power within the fraternity and took his life away from everyone that loved him. And while I am certain that all the guys from the frat are incredibly sorry – they still need to pay for their cruelty to Matt.
In a fair world, they should have to endure the same torture and embarrassment that they put Matt through that night; however, since it is not possible for them to go through the same ordeal Matt went through, they need to at least be punished to the extent that the actions of that night will haunt them for the rest of their lives just like it haunts me, Matt’s mom, his family, and his friends.