FULTON, NY – In front of the entire 11th and 12th grade classes, six students were involved in a two-car motor-vehicle accident Thursday morning at G. Ray Bodley High School. In the end, one student was “killed” and another was sent to prison for causing his death by getting behind the wheel of a car drunk on prom night.
The mock DWI was set up to show students the real consequences of drinking and driving. It was held as a precursor to prom night, which is slated for this weekend. (To see a full gallery of images from the event, click HERE.)
Stop DWI Coordinator Paul Stoner narrated the events, which started in the school parking lot with an accident scene that involved personnel from the Fulton police and fire departments, Menter Ambulance and the Oswego County Coroner’s office.
Subsequent to the scene outside, students were brought into the auditorium where they witnessed the parent notification of Nicholas Pike’s death, the arraignment for student John Rizzo, Pike’s funeral and Rizzo’s final court appearance where he was sentenced to serve five to 15 years in prison. Students were also asked to thank their classmates and pay “final respects” to Pike. Inside the coffin on the stage, students saw a mirror on the
Stoner stressed that no amount of remorse, prison time or regret will bring back a life.
Stoner pointed out that if students make a conscious decision not to drink and drive, they can prevent the tragedies altogether.
“It is so easy not to mix alcohol with motor vehicles,” he said.
Students who witnessed the events said they were affected by the message.
“I thought this was going to be boring and stupid but it was pretty cool,” said Wendy Ruiz. “It really gives you the actual feelings of it all. It was sad.”
“It was worth everything that they put into it,” student James Larkin said. “I really didn’t know what to expect. But there was a lot of detail. It is those small details that make people pay attention.
“If it stops one kid from having a drink on prom night, it was worth it,” Larkin added.
That is the whole point, according to Principal Dennis Dumas.
“I think students will definitely walk away with a new appreciation for their actions and the potential results of their actions,” Dumas said. “If it saves even one family from going through something like this, we have done our job.”
To indicate the significance of the losses, Dumas said that neither Pike nor Rizzo returned to classes after the program Thursday. “One is dead and one is in prison,” he said.
Fulton Police Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore said that he believes the program is valuable.
“This is most definitely a positive program, especially before prom season to get the word out to these kids,” Abelgore said.
Abelgore noted that students are killed every year after the prom because of drunk driving collisions. He said he believes putting the information in front of the students before something happens is an important step in reducing those numbers.
“Things like this let them know that it happens and that it can happen to them,” Abelgore added. “Hopefully this hit home today.”
Fulton City Court Judge Spencer Ludington, who served on the “bench” for the arraignment and sentencing portions of the program, said he was impressed with the program.
“This was great,” Ludington said. “It was incredibly well done and I was very impressed. Hopefully it had an impression on these young drivers.”
Oswego County Assistant District Attorney Mary Rain, who took part in the program as the prosecutor as well as the coroner on the scene and the person responsible for parent notification, said that while the events were condensed, they provide a realistic depiction of what happens after a DWI collision that involves a fatality.
“This is actually very realistic from my part,” Rain said. “This is what we do, it was just sped up and condensed.”
The significant differences, she said, are the outcomes.
“Fortunately, this victim gets to go back to classes tomorrow,” Rain said. “Real victims and defendants don’t. I really hope that the students grasp the severity of that.
“You can be the sorriest defendant in the world and it doesn’t change the outcomes,” Rain added. “The power to change that comes before something happens and making decisions that will prevent this. People aren’t usually killed because they slept in their car instead of driving or because they called their parents or a friend for a ride home.”
Rain said she also encourages parents to be forgiving of a child who is making that call.
“In that case, it is more important to be thankful that they are calling instead of taking the risk and going to prison for five to 15 years while another family buries their child,” Rain said.