NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Every 15 minutes someone, in the United States dies from an alcohol related traffic collision. To raise awareness and to help prevent drunk driving and substance abuse, the New Providence Alliance to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse held “Every 15 Minutes” for New Providence High School juniors and seniors on Tuesday on Pioneer Drive.
The program included a realistic re-enactment of the perils of substance abuse and driving.
“Every 15 minutes” is a national program that is presented at schools throughout the country. Sergeant Dennis Carovillono has been involved in the New Providence program for the past five years. He told TAP into New Providence, “This event is one of the most impactful, emotional and influential programs before the prom.” Carovillono also commented that it “hits home” now that his own daughter, Jennifer, is a high school senior in Cranford.
Several of the students who were part of the re-enactment said that they were nervous about the scene and that it is a very frightening situation.
New Providence High School Student Assistance Counselor Dave Chango said, “It’s been going really well. The kids have been very receptive [to the program]...”
In the re-enactment, seven of the high school teens were victims of a two-car collision. New Providence High School juniors and seniors viewed the accident setting with the injured passengers. Emergency services including the New Providence Police, Rescue Squad and the Fire Department arrived at the scene. Firefighters had to use the “jaws of life” to remove some of the victims from one of the cars. Several of the teens were treated on location and some of the seriously injured victims were transported by ambulance to Morristown Memorial Hospital. The student who was driving drunk was arrested.
Later in the afternoon, the program continued with a mock trial at New Providence Courthouse. Parents of the teens who perished in the accident were asked to read victim impact statements. The teen drunk driver was convicted of a DUI and multiple counts of vehicular manslaughter and was led out of court in handcuffs.
Tim Clewell, father of Erin Clewell who played the role of the drunk driver, said, “It is very scary but an important presentation.”
The entire program including the accident, the visit to the hospital and the mock trial was taped and will be shown at an assembly on Wednesday at the high school. The director for the video is New Providence resident Joe Narcisco, the filmmaker is Patrick McDonald and the photographers are Brian Hogarth, Colin Tunney and Dave Paris. The student assembly will also include a presentation by guest speaker Maria Esteves, President of Middlesex County Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Marie McNally, chairperson of the program, said was “very excited” about this year’s program. She became involved when her son, Christopher, a 2015 Rutgers graduate, participated as one of the victims in the town’s first presentation in 2010. She was so moved by “Every 15 Minutes” that she joined the Alliance and now volunteers to run the program.
McNally pointed out that the entire Municipal Alliance is involved in the success of the event. They include Lori May and Atlantic Health; Sergeant Dennis Carovillono; Capt. Wayne Mauer and the members of the NP Police Department, Fire Department and First Aid Squad; Superintendent of NP Schools David Miceli; NPHS Principal Lauren Zirpoli; the 23 students who participated and their parents; Bagpipe Musician Noel O’Keefe; Judge Donald Bogosian; Prosecutor Carol Berger and defense attorney Don DiGioia. Local businesses that provide support for “Every 15 Minutes” include The Murray Hill Inn, Prestige Diner, Coppola's, Starbucks and South Street Market.
The Alliance is a volunteer organization that is always looking for the community to join and support their mission. They also have a clothing donation bin at the New Providence Rescue Squad to raise funds for the program. For more information, visit http://www.newprov.org/AllianceHome.cfm.