Nearly seven years ago, 16-year-old Todd Stansfield was behind the wheel of his car when it smashed into another vehicle on a rural, two-lane road in Douglas County. Four people died. Stansfield lived. And ever since he put pen to paper after the crash, he’s been trying to use the power of his words to make sense of that horrific night.

May 2011

Todd Stansfield grew up at the corner of Seibert Circle and South Edinborough Way in Parker. Kids in the neighborhood played roller hockey in the street, tossed water balloons, and challenged one another to video games in their parents’ basements. At night, they would raid friends’ refrigerators and hang out in backyards—boys atop sleeping bags, staring into the vast darkness and talking about the girls they wanted to ask out.

Todd was the younger of Todd Sr. and Maryanne Stansfield’s two children, born March 11, 1988. At first, he was simply known as “The Baby” because his parents hadn’t settled on a name. Maryanne wanted to name the boy after her husband because she was certain the little bundle in her arms would embody her spouse’s greatest attributes—loyalty, friendliness, and most important to her, dedication to family. Todd Sr. wasn’t sure. How could you tell what kind of kid he was just by looking at him? So the boy’s parents took him home. About three weeks after his birth, it was official: Todd would be his name.

Todd’s father was an insurance salesman, and his mother stayed home until Todd turned seven, then took a part-time job with United Airlines so the family could travel the world together on a discount. During the summers, the Stansfields visited places like Australia, England, and France.

When he wasn’t globe-trotting, Todd was busy playing sports. In elementary school, it was soccer. In middle school, football and track. By Todd’s sophomore year at Ponderosa High School, he’d eased his way into the popular crowd. He was an A and B student who’d become captain of the school’s varsity track team and was just three seconds short of qualifying for the state meet in the 800-meter event. As part of his training, he punished himself with five-mile runs, some in 95-degree heat, others in the cold of winter. Michael Budge once saw Todd sprinting along the path behind his home. He went inside and told his mother that he’d never known anyone like Todd before.

Todd was also the starting fullback on the junior varsity football team. Though he weighed only 150 pounds, No. 22 regularly ran over teenagers 50 pounds heavier. He scored more than 10 touchdowns that season—including three in the JV championship versus Highlands Ranch High School, which Ponderosa won. It would be his last game.