To whom it may concern and may it please the court.

My name is Thomas Ruble. I am a Stationary Engineer and have been working at Children’s Hospital Oakland for the last four years. My sister Bobbie Vahl and her husband Bill Vahl have best Friends with Matthew Carrington’s mother Debbie Smith and his step father Greg Smith for decades. I first met Greg when my sister and her husband were dating in high school. Greg and Bill were best friends back then.

I was present at Greg and Debbie’s wedding and remember what a handsome young boy Matt was at that time. Over the last twenty or so years it has been my pleasure to be included at gatherings for birthdays, holidays, camping and boating trips and too many barbeques to mention. Matt learned to swim in my back yard and parked his bicycle in my yard while he was at school before he could drive. He grew up with my niece Kristi and in recent years he provided a window Into her life from his unique perspective that I would have otherwise never gotten a glimpse of. It was sometimes frustrating being around Matt. He always seemed to do so well at whatever he was trying and somehow made it look easy. Be it ping pong, fishing, water skiing or Frisbee. It was fun to watch him grow up. I’m 42, never married and I have no kids of my own. What I do have, is many nieces and nephews, about half related by blood. I consider these my kids and Matt was definitely one of them. Although I wasn’t close to Matt I was kept well informed of his progress through my sister. Everyone was very proud of him. When Matt’s life was cut short so was the amazing show I was watching albeit often from afar.

Since then my world has seriously changed. My life is somewhat compartmentalized. I tend to keep my work, home, family and friends largely separated from each other. I am very close to my sister Bobbie and her entire family. Their house is where I go to escape. In the past when Greg and Debbie’s names were mentioned it always brought good times to my mind. Memories of past get togethers and anticipation of future ones. Last weekend when I visited my sister, instead of discussing Halloween activities as we usually do this time of year we were discussing this tragedy and what little we can do to support Greg and Debbie. Instead of watching my nieces assemble costumes their energies are devoted to making “Remembering Matt” signs and buttons. I guess the best way to summarize it is to say that in the past being around the Smith and Vahl families constituted on of my few “happy spaces”. That Happy space now has shrunk, it’s not entirely gone, but it will never be as bright without the light Matt brought to it. There is a cloud of sorrow hanging over the place now and while we may be able to push it aside for awhile it will always remain with us. Matt’s mother Debbie has always been bright and full of laughter and good cheer. Too much of that is gone now and might never return and I for one will miss it.

Your Honor. When considering sentencing of the individuals involved I hope that you try to send a message that there are consequences for one’s actions that sometimes last a lifetime. Not just for the immediate friends and families of the victim but for everyone whose life was touched by him. On behalf of everyone who loved Matt all we can hope for is that some good can come from this tragedy. A stiff message from the court might bring more attention to the dangers of hazing and in doing so perhaps prevent future needless injuries and death. I hope you deliver such a message.

Thomas Ruble