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Archive for Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Students ‘play dead’ for a day to denounce drunken driving

February 6, 2007

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The 'Grim Reaper' visits one local high school

Dozens of students at Lawrence High School were 'killed off' today to teach students a sobering lesson about the dangers of drinking and driving. Enlarge video

Being "dead" for a day was a sobering experience for Erin Eifler, a Lawrence High School sophomore.

"I was watching what it would be like if I wasn't there," Eifler said Monday afternoon during the end of a schoolwide, anti-drunken driving project. "And it was scary."

Eifler was among 57 LHS students who pretended to be dead for the day, "killed" by a drunken driver.

Each volunteered for a project called "Every 29 Minutes," a reference to how often a person dies in an alcohol-related accident in the United States.

"A lot of the teachers have lost friends or family members to drunk drivers, and a lot of family members have, too," Eifler said. "There was a lot of conversations going on during classes, with people telling their stories. A lot of people were crying."

The day began with a knock at the classroom door by a police officer and a paramedic, who entered and announced that a student in that class had been killed.

The student then silently left the classroom, going off to a "morgue." A rose and tombstone explaining how the student died were placed on the student's desk.

A Lawrence High School student wears a black shirt and a tombstone and holds a rose to represent being killed in a drunken driving accident. About 55 students participated in a program called "Every 29 Minutes" to educate their classmates about the dangers of drunken driving.

A Lawrence High School student wears a black shirt and a tombstone and holds a rose to represent being killed in a drunken driving accident. About 55 students participated in a program called "Every 29 Minutes" to educate their classmates about the dangers of drunken driving.

The student then returned to class from the morgue, wearing a black T-shirt. The student then remained silent all day as he or she attended classes, avoiding eye contact with friends and teachers.

The "tombstone" Eifler wore around her neck told how she had met her demise - a drunken driver was going the wrong way down Kentucky Street, a one-way street, and Eifler and her best friend tried to swerve out of the way.

"They were killed in a head-on collision, and the driver escaped without a scratch," Eifler's tombstone said.

The sophomore said there were some students who made light of the event and didn't take it seriously.

"But those are the people that are going around drinking and driving on the weekends," Eifler said.

Sadie Stringer, a senior, said she also experienced different reactions when she "died" during third hour.

"The most mature comment that I've gotten so far was just complete silence," she said.

The project, which was sponsored by the school's FYI Leadership Club, also included the "dead" students eating lunch silently together in a "cemetery" in the school cafeteria.

And at the end of the day, they formed a two-line gauntlet, where they handed out ribbons to other students.

The ribbons were to be tied onto the student car antennas or rearview mirrors as a symbol to remind them not to let a drunken person drive their vehicle, said Vanessa Rials, a senior and co-president of the FYI Leadership Club.

Lawrence High School students, representing those who have been killed in drunken driving accidents, line the halls after school and distribute ribbons from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The FYI Leadership Club sponsored a program Monday at LHS called "Every 29 Minutes" designed to encourage youths not to drink alcohol and drive.

Lawrence High School students, representing those who have been killed in drunken driving accidents, line the halls after school and distribute ribbons from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The FYI Leadership Club sponsored a program Monday at LHS called "Every 29 Minutes" designed to encourage youths not to drink alcohol and drive.

Rials, who participated as one of the dead students, said the experience was difficult.

"To not be able to talk, you feel, in a sense, lost, like you're not really there," she said.

It was also interesting to see how differently people react to her death, she said.

"Some won't even look at you," Rials said. "I actually had one girl hug me and told me it would be really sad if I was gone."

Diane Ash, LHS prevention specialist, said the program has been going on each year since 1993 and had more of an impact than just giving students information.

"It's a powerful statement of how thousands of people lose their lives every year due to drinking and driving," Ash said. "And we know it could be any of our kids."

Comments

Aileen Dingus 7 years, 10 months ago

My son participated, and graciously killed us BOTH at Mass & 23rd. See- I told you it was a dangerous intersection. :)

Way to go LHS! Excellent program.

auturgy 7 years, 10 months ago

I did this as a FS student several years ago, and thought the program was excellent.

lisabeth2002 7 years, 10 months ago

My school did something similar to this project. During the school day sirens could be heard outside. The teachers told everybody to go out and watch what was going on. A drunk driving accident scene was just outside on the road. An ambulance came rushing up along with several cop cars. The drunk driver was arrested and a student was placed in a body bag on the side of the road. Another student was being taken out of a smashed up car...complete with the use of 'jaws of life'. Once that student was removed from the car a helicopter landed and took her away. We watched until the cars were towed away and complete reports had been filled out. Later in the day an announcement was made that the girl that was taken by air ambulance had died. The police, paramedics and participating students made everything look so real that there were SEVERAL observers crying. The scene was complete with a smashed car, tire marks from slamming on the brakes and blood on the students. I think it is something every school should do. One drunk driver...two dead students.

lasseter 7 years, 10 months ago

Our Children also participated in the program. No one ever thinks it is going to happen to them. I have lost two members of my family to a drunk driver, a three year old and a five month old. My cousin Denise was hit broad side at 65 mph. He did not even remember it and showed little remorse. It is a very sureal thing to see caskets that small. In Louisiana there is a tradition to stay with a body till burial. I remember that as if it were yesterday, stuff of nightmares. For all of my education and preaching our son has been "caught" three times driving drunk. I do pray I'm not on the other end of a drunk driver because the other side is unbearable.

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