WEIRTON - As students at Weirton Madonna High School prepare to hold their prom today, teachers took the initiative to arrange for them to learn about the dangers of drinking and driving through a mock accident at the school.
Students began their lesson on the dangers of drinking and driving with Mike McCoy, former defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. He discussed how turning to alcohol had a detrimental effect on his life and offered some words of wisdom and encouragement to students as they approach the end of their high school careers.
Following the talk with McCoy, student piled into the school's cafeteria where they heard from Weirton Police Officer Steve DiBacco, Fire Captain Jerry Shumate and paramedic Carol Lyons of the Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN — The Weirton police and fire departments, along with the Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad Inc. and STAT MedEvac, demonstrated the dangers of drinking and driving during a mock accident on Wednesday at Weirton Madonna High School. Crews demonstrated a field sobriety test, having to cut two student volunteers out of the vehicle due to entrapment and providing medical treatment. -- Angelina Dickson
Lyons was the first to speak to students and talked to them about making good, responsible decisions. She said each student was the only one able to be responsible for the decisions they make and one bad choice could change the rest of their lives.
"You have to think to yourself 'do I want to go to jail for the rest of my life for hurting someone because I was drinking and driving' or 'do I want to die' because those are the consequences you could face," she said. "Even if you don't think about yourselves, think about your friends, family or even the stranger that you could injure or kill."
Lyons then shared the personal story of the loss of her son because of the actions of another individual who decided to drink and drive. She said she has to live with the pain of that loss every day and it is not something she wishes on anyone.
"Before you drink and drive or get into a car with someone who has been drinking, think about what you want your future to be," she said.
Shumate shared some of his experiences in the emergency responder field. He said it is always difficult to see the looks on parents' faces when they have to identify the body of their 15-year-old child.
Shumate said each student should be proud of the accomplishments they've earned in high school thus far and encouraged them to think before they act because one bad decision could wipe it all away. He encouraged the students to pretend the mock accident was real because that's how it happens.
"You have to think there are not only physical disabilities that can come from an accident but mental disabilities that can last a lifetime as well," he said. "Make sure you enjoy your time at prom and remember, don't let that one bad decision ruin all you have gained."
Students were then escorted to the parking lot where city police and fire departments, along with the Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad Inc. and STAT MedEvac demonstrated the dangers of drinking and driving during the mock accident. Crews demonstrated a field sobriety test, having to cut two student volunteers out of the vehicle because of entrapment and providing treatment via ambulance and medical helicopter.
(Dickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)