Real life experience magnifies impact of drinking and driving

Last week’s “Shattered Dreams” mock disaster involving young people who had been drinking and driving hopefully made an indelible impression on junior and senior high youth who participated in or witnessed the event.
    The exercise was well run and realistic down to the most minute detail and proved to be a valuable training for first responders and hospital staff.
    In the incident, two young people, a senior and a freshman, died as the result of a drunken driver crashing into another vehicle. The freshman died after being life-flighted from the scene. A mock funeral followed for the two victims.  
    Even though it was just an exercise, it created a real-life scenario that can be prevented by just doing the right thing—don’t drink and drive.
    While the event focused on impacting our youth, all of us can learn from the events of the day—most importantly, don’t drink and drive.
    Perhaps the most poignant part of the day came when Ogallala’s Bill Redinger shared his story with the kids and adults present following the mock funeral.
    His story is a tragic one. A sad one.
    Five years ago on March 16, Bill, his wife and brother lost their 19 year-old daughter and sister to a drinking and driving accident on I-80 near Hershey.
    Not only was the driver behind the wheel after drinking, she was also texting while driving more than 100 mph down the interstate. An imperfect storm.
    The driver survived while the passenger died instantly after the vehicle left the road.
    Then the unthinkable occurred.
    Bill assumed it was his daughter who was driving and survived  the accident. Even after arriving at the hospital in North Platte, he thought it was his daughter in the ER.
    As a former state patrolman, Bill had preached to his daughter never to drink and drive. Actually she hadn’t. She had been drinking so let her best friend drive instead. His daughter was the passenger in the car.
    It wasn’t until the parents of the other girl arrived at the hospital and said it wasn’t their daughter who had died that Bill realized the victim could be his daughter. An identifying tattoo told the tale. It was indeed their daughter.
    Lives turned upside down by bad decisions, especially drinking and driving.
    The pain is still real. He speaks to young people to encourage them to make the right decisions so they don’t ever put their family through what they’ve had to experience.
    This is indeed a lesson to us all.
    I’m guilty. I’m sure many of you are too. Don’t get behind the wheel. Call a friend for a ride, walk, or whatever. We don’t want to cause or experience that same pain in our own lives.

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