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Long HS students get does of reality
Pic 1 Trooper William Bowman at Long Co Prom Promise  Safety Day
GSP Trooper William Bowman takes a student on an impaired-driving demonstration at Long County Prom Promise Safety Day. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle

The Long County Sheriff’s Office held its annual Prom Promise/Student Safety Awareness Day on Friday.
More than 300 students from Long County High School took part.  
To begin the program, students drove golf carts through a cone course while wearing goggles that simulated driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Though the kids ran over the cones and laughed at each other, they got a full understanding of how difficult it was to drive while intoxicated.
After this, the students went to an area where an apparent head-on collision had occurred.
Shortly after the collision, law-enforcement officers from the LCSO and Georgia State Patrol arrived at the scene. Within minutes, units from the Ludowici/Long County Fire Department arrived and began using the Jaws of Life to cut out a student who was trapped in the vehicle.
As this was going on, GSP Trooper William Bowman began checking one of the drivers and discovered that the driver was intoxicated.
The trooper then handcuffed the driver and placed him in his car to be charged with vehicular homicide.  
As medical personnel treated some of the injured people, the students saw local mortician Ray Howard place one of the “dead” students in a body bag and then load the “corpse” into the back of a white hearse. Everyone in the crowd was stunned when the mother of the dead student arrived at the crash site and screamed after learning her child was killed by the drunk driver.
After the demonstration ended, the students went into the gymnasium where they saw two caskets on display in the center of the basketball court. Bacontown Baptist Church Pastor Herman Scott then read the simulated obituaries of LCHS students Allyssa Marrero and Kylie Rogers, the two students who were “killed” in the car wreck.  
Following the somber demonstration, convicted felon Adam Cochran spoke to the students about how he had killed three people in a car crash in 2004. He said he was convicted of vehicular homicide and DUI and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Cochran said that even though he is out of prison, he still is on parole and is reminded every day of the mistake he made 11 years ago.
“I didn’t mean to do it, but my bad choices resulted in the death of three people,” Cochran said.
He told the packed gymnasium that he had had seven drinks over an extended period of time on the night of his wreck, but that when he was tested for intoxication he had 0.10 percent alcohol content still in his blood.
The level considered legally drunk in Georgia is 0.08 percent.
“One drink is too many. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t get in a car with anyone who has been drinking,” he said.
Cochran said that even though most people acknowledge that drinking and driving is wrong, today many are being just as irresponsible by texting when they drive.
He said people who text while driving are just as impaired as those who have consumed four beers. Cochran said that whether it is drinking and driving or texting and driving, all people need to make smart choices.
“You hurt or kill somebody, you can go to jail whether you meant to do it or not,” he said.
Cochran also encouraged the students to always be alert when they drive and be defensive drivers looking out for others who might make bad decisions as they drive.
After Cochran finished, Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles told the students how difficult it is to tell a parent that their child had been killed in a car wreck. He spoke of how, when he was a teen, he was like them in feeling invincible.
“We think we’re invincible, but we’re not,” Nobles said.
“It takes work to do the right thing, but it doesn’t take any effort at all for someone to simply do what they want to do.”
The sheriff then told the group that if any of them had a problem with any type of substance abuse, they could come to him at the sheriff’s office.
He promised them that he would maintain their confidentiality and get them help.
LCHS Assistant Principal Michael Taylor told the students that it is up to them whether or not they made good decisions or bad decisions.
“If we can make an impact on the kids and keep one student from getting in a precarious situation, then we’ll keep doing this every year,” LCHS Principal Scotty Hattaway said.
“It is well worth the resources.”

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