“TWO TEENS DEAD IN CAR ACCIDENT; ALCOHOL INVOLVED,” read the main headline for the newspaper . . . once again. As I read the article I was almost able to predict the story it told: A couple teens drinking at a party thought it would be fine to drive home, but due to their blood alcohol content of .22, they hit a tree and both died instantly.
Stories like theirs are all too common in today’s society, though each time I read a story that includes drinking and driving my mind drifts to one story in particular. It is a story that my dad told me when I was about thirteen years old. As I looked at the damaged cars pictured in the newspaper, the scene seemed eerily similar to that of which had been etched in my mind for forever a few years back. The upside down car in the picture was the exact same type of car from the event that made such an impact on my dad’s life. I closed my eyes and remembered him telling me the story that I would never forget. . .
“I had taken a road trip to Savannah with a couple buddies of mine,” he said years ago. “I had just seen her an hour before the accident. She was at a party with her boyfriend who played baseball for Georgia Southern,” he continued.
He had gone on to tell me how they decided to leave and head back to Statesboro (he and his buddies were sophomores at The University of Georgia Southern). They hadn’t gotten very far before they slammed on the breaks; for what lay ahead of them would put them in an unforgettable situation.
The wheels were still spinning as a small red Toyota lay upside down. Smoke and fumes filled the air. Unlike most car accidents, there was no crowd of people forming around the accident. Actually, there were no bystanders there at all. As he and his friends rushed out of the car, they would be the only ones there to help.
“I ran up to the passenger side door. I tried to see if I could open the door somehow when I realized who it was,” he explained. “Before I could do anything with the door, she smacked her face against the window and I saw that it was her, Sara. From the party. Blood dripped down her cheeks and turned her blonde hair into a rusty red,” he said.
He explained to me how after he helped Sara out of the car she began to go into shock. The ambulance was on its way at that point, but everyone knew that her boyfriend, Robbie, was still in danger. As they dealt with Sara, one of my dad’s friends rushed to the other side of the car. He peered into the driver’s side window to see Robbie. Face down. Gurgling in his own blood.
“Sara was rushed to the hospital but released a few days later. She had so much physical and emotional pain from the accident that she dropped out of school that same year. Robbie was pronounced dead before arriving at the hospital. Alcohol was involved,” he said as he finished telling me the story. Although it had been about six years since he told me about Sara, Robbie, and the red Toyota, it felt like just yesterday that he opened up and shared the heart breaking story.
As I grew more mature I thought about the story more and more. When my friends began to experiment with alcohol it infuriated me when they thought it would be okay to drive. They would try to justify their actions by saying things like,
“It won’t happen to me,”
“It isn’t a long drive, I’ll be fine,”
“Come on, I didn’t drink that much.”
But little did they know, mumbling these few words before heading out the door never took away the fact that they were incapable of driving a car safely, and their name (next to the word “dead”) could easily be the headline of the next newspaper.
Being a freshman in college, I still hear these excuses from time to time. When this happens, I wonder why my peers do not think,
“How will my parents feel when I die behind the wheel?”
“How will my friend’s family feel when I kill them while driving intoxicated?”
“What will happen to the passengers in the car that I could hit head on?”
And then I realize they won’t. They won’t think about that. Because they are too cool to say no in front of their friends. They are too cool to decide to be a designated driver for the night. They are too cool to realize what consequences may lay ahead; consequences such as head trauma, broken bones, crushed skulls, ruptured spleens, amputated limbs, jail time, or death. Death of a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a daughter, a son, a best friend, etc.
When the opportunity comes or the situation appears where one may think they can drink and drive, all I can hope is that they think about the possible consequences of their actions as well as the fact that those consequences are one hundred percent preventable; if one chooses not to drink and drive, one will not have to pay the consequences of drinking and driving as Sara, Robbie, and the teens from the newspaper article did.
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