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Mundy's Mill students illustrate dangers of drunk driving

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Two "lifeless" bodies lay on the pavement of Mundy's Mill High School's parking lot on Wednesday as a light rain fell from the sky.

A "mother" grieved the death of her "daughter."

Students covered their mouths to hide their shock as a "drunk driver" was taken away in handcuffs.

Then a teacher said, "We're done," and the deceased students jumped up and searched for the nearest umbrella. A Clayton County Fire Department rookie climbed off a stretcher and the onlookers headed back to class. The scene was a skit performed by the school's BETA Club and National Honor Society to show students what happens when they choose to drink and drive.

It was done as part of the National Family Partnership's Red Ribbon Week, a drug and alcohol awareness campaign that began on Tuesday, and continues until Oct. 31.

"This is the first year we've done this," said Melissa Niedermeyer, one of the co-sponsors of the BETA Club. "I just want them [the students] to think before they make a decision."

Two nonfunctioning cars were used in the scene. One car was the vehicle being "driven" by Mundy's Mill High School junior, Joseph Bell, who was a "innocent victim" in the cash, according to Niedermeyer. The other car was being "driven" by another Mundy's Mill High School student, Greg Myrthil. The "passenger" in his front seat, Janeau Wright, "died" when she was ejected from the car.

Clayton County Police Officers "arrested" Myrthil for "driving under the influence" and put him in a squad car. Shurvon Ingram, an English teacher at the school, played Wright's mother. Ingram had to be taken away because the death of her "daughter" made her hysterical.

The Clayton County Fire Department also participated in the skit. Two of the department's rookies, Howard Davis and Aurora Davis, played survivors who were trapped in the back of Myrthil's car. Fire fighters had to remove the windows, and cut the roof off of the car to "extract" both of the "survivors."

"These events are, I'm sad to say, all too common in Clayton County," said Sgt. Dexter Teague, the safety-education officer for the Clayton County Fire Department. "Two to three times a week, we have to extract someone from a car, and that involves all aspects of life, ranging from weather, to alcohol, to multi-tasking."

According to the National Family Partnership's web site, National Red Ribbon Week was started in 1988 to remember Kiki Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Agent who was killed by drug traffickers in Mexico City in 1985. The ribbons represent an intolerance toward drug and alcohol abuse. The goal of the National Family Partnership is to build a drug-free America.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), about three out of ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash during their lives. The rate of fatal car crashes, when alcohol is involved, is three times higher at night (59 percent) than during the day (18 percent.) MADD's web site also says 92.5 percent of twelfth-graders, who were surveyed in 2006, said alcohol was either "very easy" or "fairly easy" to obtain.

An estimated 16,885 people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2005, MADD also reports.

"It feels pretty good [to be dead] because of the fact that people now know what happens when you make stupid decisions," Wright said. "Hopefully, a few people learned something from this," she added.

"I hope they'll realize that the things they see on the news can actually happen to them," Bell said. "If they don't take it seriously, and decide to drive under the influence, they will suffer the consequences."

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On the net:

National Family Partnership: www.nfp.org

Mothers Against Drunk Driving: www.madd.org