Re-enactment meant to deter students from drinking and driving

Sue Fleming, Duval County Correspondent

FREER - As graduation day soon approaches, many high school seniors are looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime event in which some may celebrate by choosing to drink and drive.

In hopes of sending the message to avoid making such a fatal decision, the Freer High School Criminal Justice class presented a production last Wednesday afternoon to the class of 2007 entitled "Project Graduation," the re-enactment of a drunk driving accident.

Principal Ramon Pulido welcomed everyone prior to the drill as Kathy Canales then read a list of drunk driving statistics to the gathered students, faculty and staff.

"Each year more than 2,000 teens die in drunk-driving accidents. An average of 45 people die each day from alcohol-related accidents," she said. "About 2.6 million drunk driving accidents victimize four million people. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence affect a significant number of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 20."

About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives; every 30 minutes a person is killed in an alcohol-related tragedy; 64 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol and beer is the drink most commonly consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes, she told the crowd.

The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than three times as high at night as during the day, she said, with three leading causes of death for 15 to 24 year olds being automobile crashes, homicides and suicides with alcohol being a leading factor in all three.

"Texas is rated the second state with the most drunk driving accidents," Canales concluded.

The drama unfolded with the shrill sound of sirens being heard as law enforcement officers suddenly arrived in patrol cars to investigate the scene of the "accident."

Assisting at the scene were Freer Police, Freer EMS/Volunteer Fire Department and Duval County Sheriff's deputies.

Authorities quickly began the investigation at the scene as several dead bodies draped in black laid on the ground.

Injured victims who still remained inside the two wrecked vehicles were removed and loaded into an ambulance for transport to the nearest hospital.

Figures dressed in black lingered around the scene, depicting those which had died in the drunk driving accident.

As the large group quietly watched, "bodies" were placed into a hearse provided from Alaniz Funeral Home of Hebbronville.

Officers then placed the intoxicated driver under arrest and led him to a police patrol unit.

Freer Police Patrol Sgt. Arturo Martinez spoke, saying he hoped all of the students would make the choice not to drink and drive in the future.

"I've seen this happen before and I don't want it to happen to you. Drinking and driving is not worth it," he said.

In closing, Pulido also stressed the importance of not drinking while driving and thanked the Criminal Justice class for giving the presentation.