NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - A grim, but realistic scene was enacted at the New Providence High School (NPHS) on Tuesday afternoon to demonstrate the dangers of driving under the influence alcohol and illegal drugs. Nearly 20 NPHS students participated in the staging of a tragic accident that involved multiple injuries and fatalities.
Katherine Zimmerman is a senior who played a drunk driver in the portrayal. She said, “I am a bit nervous, but it will make a powerful message. It will be a good program.”
The school’s junior and senior classes came outside to get a frightening view of what happens in a serious motor vehicle accident. Selected teens were made up to be bloodied and injured in two vehicles that collided. Emergency personnel rushed to the scene in police cars, ambulances, fire engines, and a helicopter to treat the victims. The students were also transported to the hospital, where they were realistically treated for their injuries.
Also, at 4 p.m., Judge Bogosian held a mock trial about the automotive accident involving the student participants. The trial is one more of the elements that will hopefully make an impact on the students.
New Providence Councilman Armand Galluccio was on hand. He pointed out, “When this program was done three years ago, there was not one single incident of drinking on NPHS prom night.” This year’s program was supported by a number of businesses and organizations, including Atlantic Health, DeFalco Towing and local emergency personnel.
Every 15 minutes, someone dies of alcohol or drug-related incidents. Throughout the school day, students playing “walking dead” were removed from classrooms every 15 minutes.
A number of the parents whose teenagers took part in the program were at the demonstration. Clivia Esposito’s daughter, Alexandra, and Josette Liuciano’s daughter, Gigi were both a part of the accident scene. Both of the mothers agreed that they would like to see the whole school come out for the program, not just the seniors as it is important for all teens to realize the danger.
Nick Iannacone played the victim that died by being thrown through one of the car’s windshields. His parents, Patsy and Al, came to see the accident staging. Patsy said, “It’s not easy for us to have him play this role. Hopefully it will have an impact.”
David Chango, Student Assistance Counselor, and Lori May of Atlantic Health Paramedics thanked the parents for the important role they played in supporting the students who were in the program.
New Providence Law Enforcement Officials are in full support of the program. Lieutenant Theresa Gazaway said, “This is an excellent program with a great impact on the kids not to drink and drive. It is a perfect time to teach this lesson as there is a spike in alcohol related crashes in the good weather and with prom time and graduation.” Deputy Chief Scott Torre said that the event was “Awesome.” He also said that they couldn’t ask for a better day for the program.
The students who observed the accident were very serious as the emergency scene played out. Junior Brian Urness said, “This shows that it’s not ever worth doing what some kids do on the weekend.” Senior Megan Campesi said, “This is overwhelming. It actually makes me sick to my stomach. Why can’t we have breathalyzers in every car to save lives?”
On Wednesday morning, a special NPHS Assembly was held. A two-minute video of the program events was shown and a guest speaker who was once incarcerated for driving under the influence of prescription drugs addressed the students. He had hit a Rutgers student with his vehicle and the victim became a quadriplegic as a result.
Marie McNally is the chairperson for the program. When it last staged, her son played one of the accident victims. She was inspired to become part of the New Providence Alliance to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse. McNally said, “These kids are fabulous. We are anxious to get the message out. It is our prayer that if we prevent even one accident, we succeed.”
To learn more about the New Providence Alliance to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse, visit their Facebook Page, or go to the New Providence Alliance web site, http://newprov.org/AllianceHome.cfm.