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On eve of prom, South Hagerstown students warned of dangers of drunken driving

April 29, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. show South Hagerstown High School students how difficult it can be to pull people out of a car that has been involved in an accident. The demonstration took place at a Prom Promise event Friday at South High.
By Caleb Calhoun/Mobile Reporter

HAGERSTOWN — The day before South Hagerstown High School’s prom, students on Friday attended a Prom Promise event in the school parking lot.

Cpl. Lease of the Maryland State Police in Hagerstown warned the students that no one is immune from being an accident victim.

“Kids need to realize how serious the privilege of driving a car is,” said Lease, who would not provide his first name. “You literally have a missile in your hands at a certain speed when you drive a car that could take the life of anyone that’s innocent.”

The Prom Promise program, adopted by schools across the country, has students sign pledges not to drink or do drugs on prom night. South Hagerstown High put together a skit showing what it’s like for police officers and firefighters to deal with a serious wreck caused by a drunken driver.

“Hopefully people will be affected by what they saw and it will help them make smart decisions when they are put in certain situations,” Lease said.

During the skit, four high school students were in one car, and two were in another one. One person pretended to be thrown from the vehicle and killed in a wreck. Two others were put in ambulances, and one was airlifted by a helicopter. The people involved also showed the students how hard it can be to pull people from a car that has crashed.

Kirstie Wooten, 17, a senior at South High, was in the skit. She said skits can have a huge impact on students.

“This will show that these things can really happen” she said. “It’s not a joke, and it’s not funny. It’s something that can seriously happen if you decide to drink and drive.”

The Maryland State Police in Hagerstown, a captain of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., Community Rescue Service, and Engine 5 from the Hagerstown Fire Department participated in the event.

“We want to drive the message home that drinking and driving doesn’t pay,” said Jerry Keplinger, Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. captain. “We try to raise awareness to that issue.”

Prom Promise doesn’t always include a skit. It can have a motivational speaker or a contest. The main goal is to get the students involved to sign the pledge.

The event was started by Nationwide Auto Insurance in 1990, according to its website. It teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 2005 to create another underage drinking prevention program called THINK.

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