Tag Archives: drunk driving

A Sobering Story

With the holiday season near — hark! the herald angels are singing already! — it is time to turn our attention to mistletoe. Menorahs. And men and women who drive drunk.

A recent story in Inklings — the Staples High School newspaper — is worth noting.

The paper often covers important topics, like teen drinking. But — as editor-in-chief Katie Cion points out — nearly every Staples student today knows the perils of drinking and driving. Years of health education — and work by organizations like Safe Rides and the Teen Awareness Group — have hammered home the dangers of combining the two.

Adults — well, not so much.

“Personally, I have never stopped a teenage drunk driver,” a Westport police officer told Cion. “It is much more common for the operator to be an adult.”

drunk driving

Cion’s story opens with a student describing a trip home from a family wedding.

Her father had had too much to drink. Her mother offered to drive, after “only” a couple of glasses of Champagne.

“The car was swerving, and we were going way too fast,” the student recalls. “She was straddling the line in the middle of two lanes. It really freaked me out because I didn’t know what to say because she’s my mom, but I was terrified the entire time.”

Both Safe Rides member Will Haskell — a Staples senior — and adult director Julie Mombello say that students can be smarter, and less embarrassed, than their parents about admitting they are too drunk to drive.

So, as we get set for a few weeks of spirited joy and parties and peace-wishing, let’s give each other, and all Westporters — especially our impressionable kids — one special gift.

The gift of not killing each other on the road.


Grim Reaper Visits Staples

Today was Grim Reaper Day at Staples.

To raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, the Teen Awareness Group (TAG) plastered the halls and lockers with informational signs and graphic posters.

A coffin near the cafeteria hammered home the point that drunk driving kills.

A video — shown to the entire school — was the day’s centerpiece. The TAG-  produced documentary featured members of the Staples and Westport communities, sharing personal stories of the impact drunk driving had on their lives.

The effect was powerful. And — in every aspect of the word — sobering.

Click below to watch the video. Click here if your browser does not link directly to YouTube.


Teens TAG Drunk Driving

The Staples prom is tomorrow (Saturday, June 2). Graduation follows quickly. Like teenagers everywhere, Westporters celebrate. They party. They drink.

TAG — Staples’ Teen Awareness Group — is not stupid. Members are students; they know their peers, and they know how to have a good time themselves.

But they want everyone to be around for years to come. And — more directly–  they want them at graduation.

To ensure that happens, TAG produced a video. Using real Westporters — ranging from high school students to Staples grads and parents — they describe what drunk driving did to friends and relatives.

And themselves.

The video is not easy to watch.

But neither are the results of drunk driving accidents.

Searching For Drunk Drivers

For nearly a decade, Staples’ Teen Awareness Group (TAG) has worked hard and creatively to make friends and classmates aware of the horrors of drunk driving.

TAG works tirelessly to stop drunk driving.

Each May — right before proms and graduation — powerful presentations drive home the message:  PLEASE don’t drink and drive.  Alcohol kills.

Sometimes, speakers tell wrenchingly personal tales.  In 2003, a woman described the death of her only daughter in a drunk-driving accident.

Sometimes, the medium is film.  In 2006 TAG produced a documentary in which Staples students, teachers and Westport community members shared stories of how their lives have been impacted by driving and drinking.

TAG is gearing up for another video.  They’re inviting anyone in town who has been affected by drunk driving — in any way — to join them in their crusade to make a difference.

If you want to share your story, contact TAG’s adult advisors:  Chris Lemone, 203-341-1285, mrcounselorguy@yahoo.com or Elaine Daignault, 203-341-1165, elained@westportgov.org.

TAG:  You’re it.

The Grim Reaper Cometh

Prom and party season is here.  And an energetic group of Staples students wants to make sure that’s not a recipe for tragedy.

The Teen Awareness Group presented its annual Grim Reaper Day today.  It’s a powerful, thought-provoking — and yes, sobering — sight.  The impact is magnified because the message is sent by teenagers, to friends and classmates.

A demolished car stood outside the school.  The flag stood at half mast.  Three MADD representatives told their harrowing tales.

To vividly portray the daily US toll of 48 drunk-driving fatalities, a police officer and EMS responder walked into 1 classroom every 30 minutes.  They told those students about a classmate’s “death” — using a real drunk-driving story.

But perhaps the most important activity was a documentary.  It depicted the drinking behavior of Staples students — based on their own reports, in voluntary polls taken throughout the year.

The poll — also shown on blood-red posters plastered around school — found:

  • 60 percent of seniors polled have driven drunk
  • 50 percent of all students polled have been in a car with a drunk driver (including parents)
  • 81 percent of all students polled drink alcohol
  • 65 percent of all students polled are concerned about a friend’s drinking

“In the past, the message on Grim Reaper Day has been ‘look at what drunk driving can do in general,” said Nick Cion, a junior and TAG officer.

“This was a risk,” TAG member Jackie Dimitrief added.  “But based on what we’re hearing, it worked.”

“We didn’t want people to just sit back and listen,” Nick emphasized.  “We wanted this to be about how we can prevent ourselves from being statistics.”

Nick Cion, Harry Rappaport, Jackie Dimitrief and Jacob Levi. Their TAG shirts say "Don't become another statistic."

Nick Cion, Harry Rappaport, Jackie Dimitrief and Jacob Levi. Their TAG shirts say "Don't become another statistic."

Drunken Destruction

Westport Library Riverwalk destructionIn a feat of drunken driving that defies belief, a local landmark was demolished last night.

A 23-year-old Monroe driver went the wrong way down Main Street; struck a parked car; continued through the Taylor Place parking lot; bounced off the steel book drop at the Westport library’s lower level, then tore through the Riverwalk on the banks of the Saugatuck River.

The driver weaved along the tiles and grass, plowing through a dozen or so heavy stone benches that bore the names of Westport donors.

Westport Library Riverwalk destructionSomehow he kept going, despite mangling bench after bench.  The driver plowed along the unlit strip of park, which grew narrower with each bit of carnage.  Benches flew; the driver kept going, Levitt Pavilion-bound.

Finally — near the end of the Riverwalk — the driver crested the bank, and plunged toward the river.   Ironically, he was saved from possible death by one of those same benches, which caught underneath the car and stopped its descent.

Westport Library Riverwalk destructionThe driver was charged with DUI.  Early this morning, the clean-up began.

Parks and Recreation workers assessed the damage.  A&B Family Memorials in Norwalk — which provided the original benches — is ready to repair or replace them.

Westport Library Riverwalk destructionBetty Lou Cummings — the mastermind behind the Riverwalk, whose 57 benches, thousands of commemorative bricks and beautiful landscaping has provided a tranquil spot for strolling, sitting and smooching for 2 decades — was heartsick this morning.  She’s a dynamo with countless community projects to her credit, but the Riverwalk is her most visible — and perhaps her favorite.

Betty Lou is ready to help rebuild.  And she has no sympathy for the drunken driver.

“Those benches cost more than $2,000 each, and that was years ago,” she said.  “It’s going to cost a lot of money.   I hope he has plenty of insurance.”