Teens think they’re invincible, that they’ll live forever. The possibility they could be killed or maimed in a car crash on prom night is not on their minds.
But the caring adults who presented Prom Promise 2014 at Bradwell Institute last Friday believe it should be.
“Kids always think it’s going to happen to somebody else, not to me,” Bradwell Institute Principal Scott Carrier said.
He said Prom Promise is a tangible message to teens that “this can happen to you,” by drinking and driving or driving distracted.
Bradwell held its prom last Saturday. Other area high schools soon will be holding their proms, Carrier said. Liberty County High School will hold its prom on Saturday, with its Prom Promise set for Thursday.
“Our goal here was for students to have zero under-the-influence incidents during prom and to develop a lifelong zero tolerance attitude,” said Bradwell Assistant Principal Roland Van Horn, who organized Bradwell’s Prom Promise.
Van Horn pulled together an army of volunteers, including the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Hinesville Police Department, Hinesville Fire Department, Liberty County EMS, Georgia State Patrol, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Coastal Auto Parts, AirEvac Lifeteam, Bradwell Institute PTO, Lucinda Johnson-Wallace and Tammy James with the U.S. Army Substance Abuse Program, the Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network, and Bradwell faculty and staff. These adults — whose purpose was to ensure teens return home safely to their families after prom — demonstrated what occurs at a crash scene caused by drunk or distracted drivers.
The HFD extricated a role player from a staged wrecked vehicle. EMS treated simulated injuries and removed mock casualties to an ambulance and life-flight helicopter.
Bradwell students also saw a demonstration of the roll-over simulator from the Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network and were offered opportunities to drive a golf cart through an obstacle course while wearing impaired vision goggles so they could experience the “under the influence” effect.
Van Horn said students viewed a video about Chris Sandy, who caused a fatal accident when driving drunk. Sandy was 22 when his car slammed into an oncoming vehicle, killing an elderly couple outside Atlanta. He served 8.5 years in prison and is on probation until 2031. Sandy continues to speak to high- and middle-school students about his traumatic experience, in an attempt to prevent other young people from making the same mistake, Van Horn explained.
Students who participated in Prom Promise 2014 signed a pledge, the assistant principal said. The pledge reads, “I will drive safely and responsibly. I will obey all traffic laws and will not drive while distracted. I will not drive when I am under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I will not get into nor ride as a passenger in a vehicle when the driver is under the influence.”
Van Horn said although Bradwell’s prom was held in late March, planning for Prom Promise began last November.