'Accident' brings alcohol's reality to light

April 25, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania State Police trooper got the students' attention when he began talking to them Thursday at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

But after Trooper Mike DalPezzo said that drinking alcohol is fun, he told them that 18,000 people nationwide died last year in alcohol-related car crashes.

That's more than those killed during World War II and more than those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, he said.


DalPezzo spoke after students and rescue officials staged a mock drunken-driving accident outside the school as part of the nationwide Prom Promise program designed to show that alcohol and driving don't mix.

Two Ford Taurus station wagons, one white and one maroon, appeared to have collided head-on when fire trucks and ambulances arrived with sirens blaring.

One student, Allison Luce of Chambersburg, Pa., had been thrown from one of the cars and was laying "dead" on the school lawn.

One of the drivers, Matt Minnich of Waynesboro, Pa., was staggering around the scene of the accident while rescue officials used the Jaws of Life to free trapped passengers.

Minnich wobbled during his field sobriety test and DalPezzo led him away in handcuffs.

Two passengers, Brandon Smith of Shippensburg, Pa., and Branden Martin of Greencastle, Pa., screamed in agony as they were led away on stretchers.

Topping off the half-hour demonstration, the metallic blue Life Lion rescue helicopter circled the school and landed in a nearby field.

Later, students got a chance to inspect the inside of the helicopter.

"I thought it was really exciting. It should just show people what can really happen when you drink and drive," said Hope Oaks, 17, a nursing student.

Nicole Pottorff, 15, who is studying health occupations, said she was surprised that firefighters had to cut the cars apart to treat the injured.

The school's automotive technology students altered the donated cars to look as if they had crashed.

Cosmetology students used theatrical makeup kits to simulate bloody facial wounds.

Robert Miller, deputy chief of the Marion (Pa.) Fire Department, asked students to imagine their friend or loved one as an accident victim.

The event was organized by members of the school's Key Club, a community service organization.

All week, the club has been conducting Prom Promise activities at the school, said club president Tracey Diffenbaucher of Greencastle, Pa., who is studying architectural drawing.

Upcoming Franklin County, Pa., prom dates are May 3 for Greencastle-Antrim and Shippensburg, May 10 for Waynesboro, May 16 for Fannett-Metal and May 17 for James Buchanan and Chambersburg.

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