(Franklin) — Students at Heard County High School received a powerful message on Monday, April 14th, as Chris Sandy and Eric Krug delivered their stories about how drinking and driving had forever changed their lives and the lives of many others.
The “Enduring Regret” program resulted in a gymnasium filled with students, who remained silent for over an hour, as Chris and Eric’s story brought tears to the eyes of many adults and teenagers.
Chris Sandy first visited students at Heard County High School in 2006, at which time he was an inmate at the Georgia Department of Corrections. He was allowed to travel throughout the state, while being escorted by law enforcement to share his story.
This special program had been designed to educate others about the consequences of drinking and driving. During his visit to Heard County in 2006, he was temporarily housed as a normal inmate at the Heard County Jail and required to present his story wearing prison attire.
Chris Sandy was a pretty normal 22 year old. He enjoyed playing sports, fishing and hanging out with his friends. That normal life came to an abrupt end when Chris decided to go to a party, slam four drinks, and drive on a country road outside Atlanta, GA. Traveling at a speed of 77 mph in a 35 mph speed zone, Chris Sandy’s car crashed into an oncoming vehicle, killing the elderly couple.
Chris pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by DUI and served 8 ½ years in a Georgia state prison. This former inmate was released from prison and is now serving Parole/Probation until 2031. Chris Sandy continues to share his traumatic story through his powerful presentations at middle schools, high schools, colleges, military bases, businesses, town hall meetings, conferences, and churches across the country.
In 2008, Chris Sandy’s story and live presentation were developed into an award- winning television documentary. “Enduring Regret-Chris Sandy’s Story of Living Life After Causing Death” was the recipient of two EMMY Awards in 2009.
Eric Krug was a standout baseball player at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA. He was a typical college student….enjoying life, hanging out with friends and having a good time. But this life that Eric knew came to an abrupt and horrific end on his 21st birthday.
Eric Krug (L) and Chris Sandy (R) address HHS students during an assembly last week
On that night, Eric made a horrible choice; he and three other friends got into a car that was being driven by a drunk driver. Eric’s baseball career and normal life as he knew it was changed forever.
The drunk driver crashed into trees, killing Eric’s teammate and best friend. Eric suffered from head trauma and was left in a coma for over a year. Because of the traumatic brain injury that he sustained, Eric lives with complications. He is not able to speak anymore. He has to use adaptive equipment, such as an Ipad to communicate with others. He has short term memory loss and has difficulties recalling important events in his life.
From this horrific crash, Eric has to walk with the assistance of a walker or uses a wheelchair.
While serving his sentence as an inmate, Chris Sandy presented his story; which was heard by Eric Krug and his mother, Joyce. It was at this time that that Eric and Joyce decided to meet Chris, in person. After that, Chris and Eric developed a unique friendship.
From that point on, Eric’s and his family visited with Chris every weekend, the remainder of the time he was in prison. Although Chris and Eric’s lives had forever been changed, as a result of separate vehicle accidents, in different years; one of the many similarities their incidents shared, is the fact that both occurred on April 11th.
After Chris was released from prison in 2009, the two friends decided to share their stories as a team, while traveling throughout the United States. Chris eventually married Eric’s sister and they now have two children. Chris describes Eric as his best friend, and related his actions to the actions of the driver that had caused Eric’s permanent disabilities.
Throughout the presentation; Chris showed remorse for his actions, while expounding on how that one bad decision had affected the lives of countless people, including his own family. During the presentation, Chris became emotional, as he described a visit from his father, while he was in prison.
Chris explained that, after his father having a regular visit with him, shortly after leaving the prison facility; his father suffered from a heart attack and died.
Eric’s mother Joyce was present during the program and spoke with law enforcement officers afterward. She described how her life had also been impacted.
“During the presentation, I had the opportunity to see the reaction of the students. The whole audience was captivated, as Chris and Eric spoke about the reality of what can happen when you combine drinking and driving,” stated Chief Kevin Hannah of the Franklin Police Department.
“Everyone in attendance remained focused during the entire program and several students approached Chris and Eric afterward, to thank them for sharing their stories. I feel certain that seeing and hearing the results of drinking and driving made an impact on everyone that attended the Enduring Regret program. I would like to thank the students and staff for once again allowing this program to be presented at Heard County High School.”