Every 15 Minutes

Did you know that every 15 minutes a teenager dies in an alcohol-related wreck?

It's a sad reality that occurs 96 times every day.  Schools all over the country hold events that demonstrate the tragic results of teens driving under the influence.

The links & videos in this post give a glimpse into what the program entails.  Even though the students & parents know that the event is staged, it is a very emotional experience for all involved.  Parents frequently break down when they go to the hospital to retrieve their kids or to the morgue to "identify" their child.  It becomes all to real in the moment.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these demonstrations, I strongly encourage you to do so.  I wish every teenager had an opportunity to participate in one of these events.  I was once in a car with someone who was very inebriated.  I too had been drinking- although I definitely was not old enough to legally do so.  I did not think any of us were going to make it out of that car alive.  I am grateful that we did.

Please do not drink under the influence- of anything.

I published the article below several years ago in the Gold City Gazette:

A man and his wife were driving home after attending the graduation of a close relative. Only a couple of miles from home, they traveled down the two lane road in the dark. Up ahead they saw headlights approaching. To their horror, they soon realized the approaching vehicle was in their lane. Guard rails to the right prevented the man from leaving the roadway. Another oncoming car in the opposing lane meant the man could not swerve either direction. A collision was inevitable.

The two vehicles collided. Emergency personnel responded to the scene. An officer assessed the man and his wife. They were declared dead immediately. The officer looked up and saw a baby sleeping in a car seat in the back seat. He was relieved. At least maybe the baby survived. He walked around the car and put his hand through the window. As he touched the baby’s neck to check for a pulse her head fell over. The little girl was dead.

It was quickly determined that the driver of the other vehicle was impaired. As the scene was being processed, a man driving his daughter home from work came across the chaos. He was a volunteer firefighter, so he stopped to ask if his assistance was needed. As he was talking to rescue crew members, he looked over at the victims of the crash. He realized he knew them—they were his neighbors. He looked around confused, seeing only three victims.

The firefighter asked where the other little girl was, explaining that the couple had a 5-year-old daughter as well. He was told that there were only three people in the car. He reiterated that the man and his wife had another daughter and that she must have been in the car. Officers and others at the scene suggested that she was possibly with a relative. The man was insistent that the girl had to be in the car, stating that the couple took her everywhere with them. Refusing to give up, the firefighter finally convinced the rescuers to look in the car again.

The mangled car was taken down off of the tow truck. The jaws of life were utilized to begin cutting the car apart. As the car was dismantled piece by piece, the front seat was lifted from the vehicle. There, on the floor, lie the little girl. She was blue but she was breathing. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for broken ribs and a punctured lung.

The little girl survived, but she had to grow up without her parents. She did not get to share “normal” moments with them. She never got to pick out her prom dress or wedding dress with her mother. Her daddy was not there to walk her down the aisle when she got married. She never got to share secrets with her sister who would likely have been her very best friend. Her life was altered forever.

June 30, 2013, will mark one year since Stephanie Chadwick recklessly sped her 2001 Chevrolet Lumina through a downtown neighborhood, damaging five cars before finally crashing into the home of Rebecca Whicker.

Chadwick was allegedly found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the wreck. Had she entered the neighborhood just moments earlier, Ms. Whicker and her three young children would have been in the front yard and might have been seriously injured or killed. Chadwick was convicted on a plea of no contest on January 1, 2013.

Since Chadwick had no insurance, each victim of the incident had to submit claims through their own insurance companies. It took nearly six months for Ms. Whicker to finally have all of the repairs completed on her home—and even longer for the emotional toll to resolve. Fortunately, Ms. Whicker recently reported that her family has recuperated from the event and is doing well.

Another man has not been so fortunate. His car was parked in front of his house when Chadwick sped through the neighborhood, wreaking havoc. Even though he was not driving and clearly free from any fault, he still has not been able to get his vehicle repaired. He only had liability insurance, and since Chadwick had none he has had to wait for his own insurance company to cover repairs under special circumstances.

Each month he receives a letter from his insurance company stating the case is still being investigated and the situation will be resolved within 30 days. This has been going on for nearly a year. The most recent letter he received regarding the investigation was last week. Meanwhile, he is driving a damaged car.

In another situation, a woman who wished to be referred to as “Deb” was in a very stressful situation. Her mother was very ill and dying. She and her mother had attended a dinner party and were returning home. Her mother was holding some platters of food on her lap. Somehow, she lost hold of the platters and they fell. Deb pulled up next to some cars parked next to the curb, ultimately double parking, and helped her mother pick up the trays.

As she began driving again, she started through an intersection. Before she could get through the intersection a police officer pulled her over. In the process of questioning her, the officer asked her if she had been drinking. She told him she had consumed one beer. He performed a breathalyzer test on her, which revealed a low over the limit reading.

Deb was arrested and attended a hearing, where she plead guilty to “Wet and Reckless Driving”, ultimately being charged with a DUI. She had two similar subsequent experiences and finally was required to enter a rehab program.

One local man in his early twenties named Tim went out “partying” with his friends one night. The three had too much to drink and got into a car. It was not long before they crashed as a result of the driver being impaired.

Tim’s doctors told his mother that he would survive but that he would basically be a “vegetable.” His mother was just thankful he was alive. Tim is now a paraplegic. Although he does have very limited ability to communicate and have a conversation, he has to rely on his mother to care for all of his needs.

One could go on and on endlessly with experiences about driving under the influence. The point that can easily be grasped here is that drunk or impaired driving affects everyone in one way or another.

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