WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Every time Gary McDonald's sledgehammer connected with the metal trunk of the smashed Toyota causing it to buckle like an accordion, he thought of the terrible loss of his stepson, Zachary Downin, in an automobile accident last month.
"It's time for them to wake up," McDonald said about the dangers of drinking and driving.
On Friday the Waynesboro community gathered at the Waynesboro Area Senior High School for a car bash/tailgate to honor the memory of junior Zachary Downin and his cousin, Kyle David Downin, who graduated in June.
Tickets for the event were $3 for students and $5 for the community. Proceeds from the car bash were donated to the Save A Life Tour in memory of Zachary and Kyle Downin.
Zachary, 17, and Kyle Downin, 18, were killed in a one-car accident on Old Forge Road in Washington Township on Sept. 17.
Police said their car crossed the roadway, hit a mailbox, utility pole and tree.
Kyle Downin, the driver, was pronounced dead at the Waynesboro Hospital following the accident.
Zachary, a passenger in the vehicle, died on Sept. 24 at York Hospital as a result of his injuries, police said.
Another passenger in the car Zachary Binnix, 18, of Waynesboro, was released from the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
While the police have not released the cause of the accident, Zach's parents said their son had been drinking.
Zach's mother, Kathy McDonald, said she wants to get the message out about the dangers of underage drinking.
"I just hope that these kids, at least one or two of them, get a wake-up call and realize that not only are they hurting themselves by having their little parties, but they can hurt other people in the process," Kathy McDonald said. "Part of me still doesn't feel that it's real, but I know that he's not here."
Zach's great aunt Elaine Gladhill thinks bringing the Save A Life alcohol awareness program to Waynesboro Area Senior High School could prevent another senseless death.
She is planning to ask the Waynesboro Borough Council, Quincy Township Supervisors, Washington Township Supervisors, Waynesboro School Board and the Waynesboro Hospital to donate money to bring the national alcohol awareness program to the high school.
She said the program costs between $3,700 and $5,500.
"There is a lot of underage drinking going on here, and it has to be supported and bought by an adult in order for it to be possible. If we can get these kids to realize that death can be a result of drinking, maybe we can get a few of them not to go to the parties," Gladhill said.
The students organized the fundraiser to benefit the Save A Life Tour for the benefit of the family.
"For a family to lose two kids in a week's span — that's terrible on a family," high school senior Tyler Warner said. "So, we thought this would be something to help them know that people do care and that we want to help them."