Every year, the same message is given to teenagers planning on attending a prom – drive responsibly and don’t drink and drive.
The message was no different Monday morning at Trinity High School, where students who will be going to the school’s prom later this month assembled in the parking lot.
As sirens wailed from responding police officers from North Franklin and South Strabane townships, along with firefighters from those two townships and Washington, the students were told about the scenario playing out in front of them.
Two vehicles, one a compact car and the other a small pickup truck, collided when the driver of the truck went through a stop sign and struck the car on the passenger side.
“See that one lying on the ground? He’s dead,” Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for the state Department of Transportation’s District 12, told the students about their classmate. “He was thrown out of the back of the truck.”
As North Franklin police gave the driver of the pickup truck a field-sobriety test, Ofsanik explained that he likely would be charged with homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
“If convicted, he would face 10 years in jail,” Ofsanik said. “His plans for college and his future have all just gone away.”
Ofsanik told the students that crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 20.
Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said that is a grim reality.
“This is no laughing matter,” Warco said. “I have to go to someone’s house and make notification that a loved one has died.”
“Hopefully, you never have to experience this,” North Franklin police Officer Rodney Bush told the students. “But unfortunately, this time of year it is something we have to deal with.”
Members of the school’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions, Jamie Satryan, Katelyn Nassar, Gigi Veltri, Patrick Wright and Sam Trapuzzano, participated in the drill. Ambulance and Chair Service, Stat MedEvac, Washington County Department of Public Safety and Burks Towing also took part.
As a follow-up to the morning’s program, students participated in a “What’s Lethal?” program that afternoon. The program shows teens the ramifications of not remaining attentive while driving.