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May 22, 2010

 

Wreck teaches sobering lesson of driving drunk

McGraw health teacher shows students the consequences by displaying car young driver crashed

TeachesBob Ellis/staff photographer
Using a demolished Saturn Ion that was involved in an accident, McGraw High School teacher Jenny Tucker, top left, discusses with her students the dangers of drinking and driving.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

McGRAW — Jenny Tucker used a pretty dramatic prop Friday to offer McGraw middle and high school students a lesson on what can happen when someone drives after drinking or while doing text messages on a cell phone.
The health teacher had the state police deposit a wrecked car on the school’s lawn, then brought seventh, eighth and 11th-graders out into the sun to look at it.
The blue Saturn Ion lay in a twisted heap, the result of being driven into a tree by a drunk driver in the Poughkeepsie area.
Tucker told the students to look at what remained of the front, where at least one person had to be removed by firefighters using Jaws of Life.
“This person was your age,” she said to 17 students in her 10:15 a.m. health class, who gathered around. “You’ve got a lot to lose, don’t you?”
The seventh- and eighth-graders, who represented one of several classes she brought out to see the car all day, stared at the wreck somberly.
Principal Mark Dimorier, Tucker and the district wanted a graphic reminder of what can happen, the day before the school’s Junior Prom.
During prom and graduation season, school administrators worry about students driving after parties. This is why schools, including McGraw, have after-prom events that keep students occupied with music, dancing and prizes donated by area businesses.
McGraw’s prom will be at Tinelli’s Hathaway House in Solon, followed by after-prom events at the high school gymnasium until 5 a.m. Sunday.
Tucker asked high school junior Dustin Randall and senior Joe Steinhoff, who are volunteer firefighters with Cortlandville Fire Department, to tell the students how long it can take for emergency medical crews to respond to an accident.
The school has two other student firefighters, junior Kyle Reddick with Cortlandville and senior Cody Brown with McGraw.
Tucker asked Randall to show the students his gear and discuss the 150 hours of training, with the knowledge it has given him about medical emergencies.
Steinhoff and senior Justin Dimorier told the students that teenagers mistakenly think they can drink and drive, and that texting is becoming a bigger problem than drunk driving.
“Are all of these kids going to get an opportunity to drink in high school?” Tucker asked the seniors. They said yes.
“Sad but true,” Steinhoff said.
The two said students worry they will get in trouble if they call a friend or parent or relative for a ride home, when they could get in more trouble if they drive.
“I hope they understand, as much trouble as you can get into for calling because you’re drunk, it’s worse if you drive and you hit somebody, or kill yourself,” Dimorier said.
Pointing at the wreck, he said, “This can happen just from doing a text message. I’ve done texting while driving. I don’t anymore. Alcohol is not the only thing that kills you.”
The school had planned to stage an accident with firefighters, medics and a student playing a victim, but it did not work out. Still, Dimorier thought the wreck itself was graphic enough.
Mark Dimorier, who is Justin’s uncle, described accidents that have killed teenagers, saying they made one split-second decision and it cost them their futures. But Tucker thought the students were more likely to listen to a fellow student.
Randall agreed, saying, “They hear about drunk driving accidents all the time, but this is an actual car that was in an accident, and look at it.”

 

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