VIP drives home messagePublished 9:44pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013
CHOCOWINITY — Southside High School Principal Rick Anderson polled students during Wednesday’s lunch period to gauge reactions to the first half of the Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person program, which discussed the dangers of texting and driving.
“One of the things that was said to me more than anything else was, ‘Mr. Anderson, that was really powerful. I’ll bet nobody will text around here for at least a week,’” he said.
The comment reminded Anderson how difficult it is to get students to drive safely. Regardless of how powerful the message, students eventually forget it, he said.
“We can’t be with you all the time,” he told students Wednesday afternoon. “You have to make what’s been shown to you here today a life changing thing.”
Tracy O’Carroll, mother of Sarah Edwards, was one of the speakers at the morning assembly. She shared the experience of losing the Southside High School student in a 2010 wreck caused by texting and driving.
Sophomore Sierra Bonner said O’Carroll’s story affected her and her classmates.
“I know it hit home for me,” Bonner said. “Maybe this will get people to stop.”
Law-enforcement and EMS personnel from the surrounding area participated in the event.
Facilitator Scott Strufe of the Nash County EMS gave students his reason for being there.
“I’m here because I carry the ghosts of about a dozen teenagers,” he said.
Other first responders there had similar experiences. Strufe said none of them wanted to add another ghost to the list.
During the afternoon assembly, volunteers re-enacted the scene of a drunken-driving wreck. An unconscious student sat behind the wheel, where a telephone pole had impaled him, as firefighters and law enforcement responded to the scene. A voiceover provided the teenage driver’s reactions to the scene, including his eventual realization that he had died.
“It affected a lot of people. You could tell it did,” said Kashawn Corey, a SHS sophomore. “I know it looked bad, but this was a good experience. It changed a whole lot of people’s lives.”