Driving home a sobering message


YATESVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Nearly one person every day loses their life in Pennsylvania from a DUI crash. Of all drunk driving crashes, one in four involves teenagers. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us how hundreds of students got a first-hand look on Thursday at the dangers of drinking and driving.

A police officer stepped in between two teenagers “fighting”. The officer yelled, “Break it up, guys. Break it up! You get over here! You get over here! What’s going on bud? What happened?,” he asked. The one teenager replied, “He hit me!”  It was the dramatic aftermath of what was supposed to be a violent, two car DUI crash. The wreck on the grounds of Pittston Area High School wasn’t real but senior Emily Howells said, “As soon as all of the fire trucks and the ambulances started coming in, my chest tightened.” 

Some 500 Pittston Area High School juniors and seniors witnessed the mock DUI crash that used real emergency responders, real crashed cars, fake blood and makeup. The scenario involved one student actor ejected through the windshield and “killed” and a few other student actors “injured”. Avery Strucke was one of the student actors who said, “I was very surprised on how real it actually felt, like when they smashed the windows out and put the blanket over me and the neck brace.”

It’s this level of realism that Pittston Area senior and Laflin Firefighter Marc Malvizzi wanted to bring to his classmates on the eve of the school prom. “I hope it sends a message to the kids to make some good choices on prom night. You know, don’t drink. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t do any stuff like that.”

Even though this was a mock crash, Mr. Malvizzi has been to actual crash scenes as a firefighter. And he says so many of them have involved drugs or alcohol. “This is something that you know you hate to see but you know it’s unfortunate that you have to see it,” he said while acknowledging he’d hate to see any of his classmates fall victim to a DUI crash.

Mr. Malvizzi is also president of the school’s Stand Tall club which aims to prevent drug and alcohol use on and off campus. Pittston Area Certified School Nurse Mary Beth Yakobitis, RN, BSN, CSN serves as moderator of Stand Tall. She said, “You just don’t want to see anybody go through devastation like that.” And prevent these teens from losing their future. Ms Howells added, “It just goes to show that it can happen to anybody, even your own classmates.”

The law firm Fellerman & Ciarimboli sponsored Thursday’s Safe Prom PledgeFellerman & Ciarimboli sponsored Thursday’s Safe Prom Pledge event at Pittston Area. It was the last of a month-long series of school presentations. More than 30,000 students since 2010 have signed the pledge promising to not use drugs or alcohol on prom night.

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