'Crash' shows consequences

May 12, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


South Hagerstown High School students giggled and gasped as rescue workers struggled to free their classmates in a two-vehicle crash.

Nearby, Joshua Campbell, 18, sat chewing gum in disbelief, then staggered through a test to determine whether he had been drinking.

Two days before prom, students got a vivid look Thursday afternoon of the consequences of partying and driving during a mock accident in the high school parking lot. After the mock accident, Trooper First Class Brian Smith of the Hagerstown barrack of the Maryland State Police showed students pictures of people who actually had died in alcohol-related crashes.

"Don't let the best weekend of your lives be ruined by making poor decisions," Smith told students.

Gene Ebersole, adviser of the student government association, which organized the event, said he believed giving students a real-life look at the consequences of bad decisions would sink in more than having them sign pledges to behave responsibly this prom season.


"If we save one kid, it's worth it," Ebersole said.

Earlier this spring, Washington County Public Schools kicked off a campaign urging students to "Live Clean." One aspect of the campaign, which was announced at a press conference with representatives from law-enforcement, the health department and other agencies, was the collection of signatures of students pledging to avoid drugs and alcohol.

With the mock accident in the works, Ebersole said South High officials opted not to collect any signatures.

For Chelsea Gitchens-Brewer, 17, who was one of hundreds of students who endured chilly drizzle to witness the mock accident, the presentation hit home. Her friends were among the students who acted in the mock accident, she said.

Chelsea said while she knows of students who have talked about drinking this weekend, she plans to pitch a tent and build a bonfire with friends after prom instead.

"We're already hearing about all the parties and stuff like that," Chelsea said. "You just got to avoid them and make the right decisions."

The Herald-Mail Articles