LAURA CUCURELLO — Staff Writer
With make-up and wardrobe intact, totaled cars in place and the sound of ambulances roaring down the street, the Mock Drunk Driving Crash program, which included students and the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center (DARC), was ready to make an impact on students, faculty and staff.
The Mock Drunk Driving Crash program was held on Nov. 2 in recognition of National Drunk Driving Prevention Month, which starts in December, according to DARC. The program was aimed to be a campus-wide event to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.
Chief Joseph Dooley said students need to learn the importance of drinking and the responsibility of not driving while intoxicated or getting in a car with someone who is.
“Each year, there are senseless deaths and serious injuries related to alcohol and drug related crashes,” said Dooley. “I refer to them as crashes and not accidents because the drivers make a conscious decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.”
After the mock DUI program, students headed to Wilkinson Hall where guest speaker Aaron Cooksey gave a presentation on how his life changed due to his own experience with drinking and driving.
“On July 29, 2001, I made the decision of getting behind the wheel of my car after a few drinks with my best friend Andrea,” said Cooksey. “I took my eyes off the road for a second, ended up swerving to avoid oncoming traffic, flipped my car over three times, and wrapped it around a telephone pole. It wasn’t until days later while I was still in the hospital that I was told that Andrea was dead and I was the one who killed her.”
Cooksey ended up serving four years in prison for aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol. He said he now travels across the country teaching young students the dangers of drinking and driving, but he makes sure he leaves something out when it comes to his lectures–preaching to students.
“I have come to learn that many speakers who lecture on drinking and driving only say, ‘Don’t do it,’” said Cooksey. “Kids are going to make their own decisions no matter what I tell them, but my point to them is to just minimize all unnecessary risks.”
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a non-profit organization founded in the United States that focuses on the issue of drunk driving, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime and every minute one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash.
As Associate Director of Student Life and an advisor for the Greek Life Program, Salvatore Rizza said the fraternity and sorority involvement in the mock program made him proud and also lessened the stereotypes against them.
“So often, members of Greek lettered organizations are stereotyped with binge drinking, partying, and reckless behavior,” said Rizza. “However, they are continually promoting academic excellence and leadership as their participation in the event shows.”
Cooksey said he hopes that his speaking appearances will help students all around the country be more responsible.
“I let hundreds of people down,” said Cooksey. “Truly think of the consequences. It isn’t worth it. Let the choices you make today be the choices you can live with tomorrow.”