Officials warn students consequences are real

Drinking, drugs and cars do not mix, high schoolers are told during program


Staff Writer

Prom Night Prom Night Following a performance that dramatically illustrated what can happen on prom night when high school students mix drinking and driving, Freehold Borough Traffic and Safety Officer William Bismarck and Freehold High School Student Assistance Counselor Kevin Flynn said they hope the effort will have an impact on students.

A simulated fatal car crash was presented at Freehold High School, Freehold Borough, on May 5 and gave more than 1,000 students something to think about.

As a result of the crash, two teens were dead, one may have been paralyzed and one was likely to face prison time.

MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Accident victim Lizzie Everett is assisted by emergency medical personnel after her prom date crashed his truck into another car, killing two people and injuring her during the simulated drunken-driving accident. MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Accident victim Lizzie Everett is assisted by emergency medical personnel after her prom date crashed his truck into another car, killing two people and injuring her during the simulated drunken-driving accident. Flynn said he believes the program will help students to understand what can happen if they make the decision to drink or use drugs and then drive.

Also in attendance at the program was Dean J. LaBollita, director of the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center of Monmouth County, who spoke about the penalties for driving while intoxicated offenses.

The fine for a first DWI offense is between $250 and $400 with the possibility of up to 30 days in jail, according to the director. A violator can also expect to lose his driver’s license for three months. A second DWI offense, according to LaBollita, carries a fine of between $400 and $1,000, up to 90 days in jail and a two-year loss of license. A third DWI offense carries a fine of $1,000, 180 days in jail and the loss of a driver’s license for 10 years.

Citing statistics provided by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), LaBollita told the students that in 2003 there were 42,642 traffic fatalities in the United States.

“To fully appreciate this large number, we would need to take the entire population of Freehold Township plus a few thousand from Freehold Borough’s population, and that would be a number close to what we are speaking about here,” LaBollita said. “Every 32 minutes someone in America dies because of a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Of the 42,642 traffic fatalities, 17,643 were directly related to motor vehicle crashes involving drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“To take a different look at this number,” he continued, “picture the entire population of Freehold Borough gone, plus four thousand people — just due to poor choices. What would it feel like to wake up one morning to find your entire borough gone?”

The program ended with comments from Bismarck, who said he has been to his share of re-enactments and at the scene of real fatal accidents. He recalled a July 4 tragedy about 15 years ago that involved a driver who had been drinking.

“He was trying to show off to his friends that he was the big man. He was driving a Chevy Blazer with the top off. In the car was his 8-year-old stepdaughter. With the daughter unprotected with no restraint, he attempted to do wheelies at 11 p.m. over by the Little League field,” the officer said. The child “flew out of the car and the vehicle rolled on top of her,” according to Bismarck.

“I can still see her,” Bismarck said. “She was barely breathing. Everyone tried to lift the car off her. We heard her take her last breaths. She didn’t make it.”

After Bismarck’s comments, any mumbling or inattentiveness had been sufficiently stopped as the students processed this real-life fatality of an innocent little girl.

In light of the recent death of Michael Orr, a 22-year-old Freehold Township resident who was killed in a car crash on March 9, police and school officials are even more determined to get the message across to students not to drink alcohol or use drugs and get behind the wheel.

Orr was a passenger in a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by Veronica Smith of Jackson, according to Freehold Township police. Smith has been charged with vehicular manslaughter. Orr sustained massive injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Jackson Mills Road in Freehold Township. Two other passengers in the car also sustained serious injuries.

According to police, Smith was intoxicated at the time of the collision with a blood alcohol level of more than double the legal limit of .08 percent. If Smith is convicted, according to police, she faces a period of incarceration not to exceed 20 years.

Bismarck left the students with these words: “If you are going to drink, stop, think and make the right choice. Don’t get behind the wheel and drive.”