SUMMERTON - A large black hearse is parked in plain view. A demolished car with the roof cut off in order to extricate a victim and blood smeared on the inside was parked at the rear of the school, and more than a dozen law enforcement, EMS and fire …
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SUMMERTON - A large black hearse is parked in plain view. A demolished car with the roof cut off in order to extricate a victim and blood smeared on the inside was parked at the rear of the school, and more than a dozen law enforcement, EMS and fire department officials were milling around.
It was a dramatization called Prom Promise held annually in an effort to make school students more aware of their actions and the consequences of poor judgment.
Scott's Branch High/Middle School Resource Officer Shante Demary with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office told the students the realities of making bad choices such as drinking and doing drugs while driving.
"The choices you make right now will determine how your life develops in years to come," Demary said.
Ashley Merrick with the Columbia Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers showed students actual presentations from family members who had lost loved ones because of poor judgment.
The mother of a 19-year-old teen from Lexington who was riding with a friend when they wrecked and the car burst into flames told the story that changed her family forever.
With burns covering more than 95 percent of his body, the teen tried to help his friend who was trapped inside the burning car. Bystanders said that while the teen struggled to help his friend and fought the pain he was enduring, he kept calling out, "I want my mom." The mother of the young man said she tells the story to other young people so that the pain she and her family endure doesn't happen to their family.
Merrick shared several statistics with the students.
"Did you know that one in three teenagers have admitted to drinking and driving?" she asked. "Did you know that you can get alcohol poisoning after just one hour of drinking?"
"Think about your choices," Merrick stressed to the students. "Think about the decisions you're making. As you prepare for prom, have a good time. Don't do anything that would keep you from graduating. Don't do anything that you could regret for the rest of your life."
Demary told students keeping safe was all about awareness.
"We can't stop you, but we can give you a different perspective," he said. "I've been doing this in schools for 15 years now. In those 15 years, I've lost 10 of my students that I've coached, helped raise and taught. They made the wrong decision or they were with someone who made the wrong decision. That's almost one student a year. That's way too many students to lose. Stay safe."
Jay Bruner, Clarendon County Fire Department's Battalion Chief 3 from the Summerton area, talked to students about what happens when students lose control of vehicles and need to be extricated from the mangled cars or trucks.
Several members of the fire department were on hand to demonstrate the tools and equipment necessary to remove victims from wrecks.
EMS personnel were also on hand using SBHS Senior Devin Brown to demonstrate how injured individuals are moved from the site of the wreck to either an ambulance or helicopter for more severe injuries.
Sgt. David Floyd, who heads up the Traffic Division for Clarendon County Sheriff's Office, talked to students about field sobriety tests and just how little alcohol or drugs they need to ingest to become impaired. Floyd chose a student from the group and conducted a few tests, including walking in a straight line and following his finger as he moves it from side to side in front of the student's eyes.
"We want you to have a good time," Floyd said. "Please stay safe."
Trooper David Jones with South Carolina Highway Patrol had a student walk around wearing the "drunken goggles" to show the other students just how difficult it was to walk with an alcohol level at twice the legal limit. Jones even had the student drive through an obstacle course with a golf cart to demonstrate the difficulty the student had just controlling the golf cart.
"It doesn't take much to impair your judgment," Jones told the students. "Be careful. Enjoy your prom. Don't drink or do drugs and then get behind the wheel of a car, and don't get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs. Stay safe. Have someone you can call to come get you. It's all about using good judgment."
To make the students realize the importance of their choices, the folks at Summerton Funeral Home had a hearse parked outside the school to drive home the point that bad choices by either the students themselves or their friends could result in lives lost.
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