Candelaria Carrillo didn’t usually ask her son, SF State alumnus Luis Carrillo, to not go out on a Saturday night but on Oct. 4, 2008, she felt differently.
She asked her son to come home but like any other 22-year-old, Carrillo went to a friend’s party.
“Don’t drink and drive,” were the parting words Carrillo’s mother said as he left that night.
Later that evening, Carrillo got into a car accident that resulted in the injury of his friend, a $100,000 bail bond, four days in jail and a month of community service.
Now, three years after his accident, the 25-year-old Carrillo is a peer educator who teaches about the dangers of alcohol and its consequences as part of Creating Empowerment through Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education, SF State’s prevention education system program. He told his story Sept. 26 at SF State’s Blurred Lines event.
“Hearing the stories, I was very interested,” said criminal justice major Brenda Godoy, who attended the event.”They always say don’t judge a person and looking at these people I would have never guessed they struggled so much… it was just very eye opening.”
Carrillo, who has won multiple awards for his services, sees the impact his story can have on young people.
“He’s been working in peer education for two years and he’s definitely touched many lives,” said Michael Ritter, CEASE’s program director. “He’s active not only with Blurred Lines but with working with students by speaking in classrooms and doing workshops.”
The night of the accident, Carrillo had approximately 10 beers and multiple shots of hard liquor at the party. A little before midnight Carrillo’s friend, Emeka Ibeabuechi, wanted to go home. Carrillo didn’t want to leave but Ibeabuechi persisted.
After getting in a verbal argument with different friend, Carillo decided to go home.
“I didn’t want to leave the party at first but my friend was insisting that he go home,” Carrillo said. “He asked if I was okay to drive and offered to drive, but he was pretty drunk too and I thought I can probably drive.”
Carrillo then left with Ibeabuechi and Jose, only an acquaintance Carrillo had met that night.
“We were driving and I was heated because of an argument with Odayshua and then all of a sudden Emeka started saying ‘Hey Luis, Jose needs to throw up, pull over,’” Carrillo said. “I didn’t want to pull over on the freeway because I didn’t want a sheriff to notice us and get a DUI.”
However Ibeabuechi began to become more panicked and began to pressure Carrillo even more.
Carrillo turned too sharply on the freeway exit while doing 40 mph in a 25 mph zone, hit a curb and flipped twice. The car was completely totaled and unrecognizable.
There were no major injuries, though Ibeabuechi experienced minor back pain and Jose had a few lacerations.
Upon being arrested, Carrillo was sent to four days in a “Drunk Tank,” essentially a cold room meant to sober up people taken in for DUI’s. Most spend only one night in the room but Carrillo was detained for four because of the severity of the accident.
After a series of court visits Carrillo was left with 55 days of community service.
“I know why I deserved that and I know after all of that I am going to dedicate myself to the community even though I graduated,” Carrillo said. “I’ll go back because the work they (CEASE) are doing means a lot to me and if I can go back and help I want too.”
Carrillo attributes his drive for the work he does to one person.
“I think it’s Michael Ritter. Just to see him doing the type of work he does with students who have never been in a leadership role,” Carillo said. “He’s committed to giving leadership skills to help you by teaching you to be a mentor and to help people learn from past mistakes.”
Carrillo hopes to move even further with his skills and plans on applying to SF State’s ethnic studies graduate program were he can continue to do social justice work.
“I feel very proud of him because he really listened and learned after what happened to him,” Carrillo’s mother said. “He moved on and finished his college. I am so very proud of him.”