Drinking and driving simulation shows students the impact of their choices
Robin Glynn – News Reporter –
Students stood outside and witnessed the effect of drinking and driving on Dec. 5th. Southern Police, the New Haven Fire Department and American Medical Response assisted with the mock crash that occurred outside of Wilkinson Hall. It showed students how they get people out of a car with the hydraulic rescue tool also known as the “jaws of life” and how they treat people at the scene of an accident.
“It was very realistic,” said Sebastian Valin, a biology major.
After the mock crash, guest speaker Mark Sterner spoke to a standing-room only room of students about his experience of drunk driving and the deaths of his three best friends.
“I do this program about a 100 times a year across the country,” said Sterner. “I came here to tell you what happened to me and my three best friends,” said Sterner.
Sterner, his friends Jim, Pete, Aaron, and another one of his friends were on spring break in Sanibel, Fla. during his senior year of college. Sterner said that he and four friends decided to have the type of spring break that everyone sees on MTV and in the movies. Sterner said that all week each person took a turn at being the designated driver. Sterner showed a video taken the last night of their trip.
“Nobody wanted to miss out on the fun of the last night of spring break,” said Sterner. “When it was time to leave the bar, whoever the least drunk person was, that would be the person to drive us home.”
While students laughed at the beginning of the video showing Sterner and his friends dancing in a bar. The room quickly grew silent as students saw photos from the accident on the night Sterner drove him and his friends back to the hotel.
Sterner said that the local hospital called his home and told his parents to rush to Florida because Sterner was in critical condition. The nurse told his mother that he stopped breathing on his own and was put on life support and that his vitals had gone down.
Sterner said Sanibel Police believed he was traveling between 55 and 60 mph. The front right tire went off the road, veering back onto the road.
The car then traveled onto the other side of the road, flipping and throwing everyone out of the car. Jim and Pete died on impact when they were thrown out of the car and into surrounding trees. Sterner’s other friend Aaron was crushed by the car. Everyone’s blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit.
“All I could think about is that my friends are dead,” said Sterner. “I was the one driving the car. I should be dead.”
Sterner’s mug shot was taken from his hospital bed. He was charged with three counts of manslaughter. Facing 45 years in prison, Sterner was sentenced to three years in prison because his friend’s parents did not want him to spend 45 years in prison.
Sterner reminisced about first going to college and his family coming along to help him unpack and visit.
“The one decision to drive that car hurt the people I love as much as I have,” said Sterner. “I never realized I could let them down as much as I did. Instead of being the first person in my family to graduate from college, I was the first person in my family to go to prison. Before spring break we sent out résumés. All week long, we talked about where we wanted to work and live.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my friends,” said Sterner. “Would they be married now? Would they have kids? What would those kids be like? That part is never going to be over. Prison is over. I live with it every day.”
Students thought that Sterner was good speaker to have.
“It was a good story to spread to college students. It is very likely that it could happen here or at any other school. I was very sad,” said Paige Goldstein, an education major.
Sterner said he hoped that people will change their minds about drinking and driving or getting in a car with someone who is drunk.
“I thought it was amazing. He changed my point of view about drunk driving because personally I drunk drive a lot. I won’t do it anymore,” said Valin.