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Driving Home DUI Dangers to Teens

Traveling memorial visits West Side CTC

KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- The holiday season is sadly the deadliest season when it comes to drunk driving. Some local teenagers are getting a sobering lesson on the dangers of being impaired behind the wheel thanks to a demonstration that happened Tuesday.

Students at West Side Career Technology Center stepped out of the classroom and into the DUI Victims Moving Memorial. The 25 foot wall containing 1,000 names of DUI victims in Pennsylvania often travels to college campuses, but it's the first time it's been brought to high school students in Luzerne County. 

One name you won't find on the DUI Victims Memorial Wall is that of a Luzerne County Airman who lost his life in a DUI crash. "He was in the Air Force for four years," said Senior Randy Jones. He spoke of his 21-year-old uncle, Airman 1st Class Matthew Jones of Plymouth, who was killed in 2002 by a drunk driver. "Veterans Day we always go up to his grave."

Luzerne County DUI Coordinator Joe Swortz spoke to students as they toured the DUI Memorial Wall trailer. "And unfortunately people who drive impaired, this is what we have a result of," he said.

The sobering lesson doesn't stop at the trailer. Eileen Miller, whose son was killed by a distracted driver in the Poconos, spoke to students about the need to focus on safe driving.

West Side CTC students also put on impairment goggles for a simulation of the impact alcohol and drugs can have on your senses. When asked what it felt like, Matthew Yanchulis said, "Well, those ones felt like I was walking on an edge that was inclined down and I was going to fall any second." He can't imagine why anyone would drive impaired. "It's stupid to drink and drive at the same time."

Organizers hope that message stays with students for a lifetime. West Side CTC Law Enforcement Instructor Daniel Hunsinger said, "I'm hoping that it drives it home enough where we don't have any fatalities in the school."

The names on the traveling DUI Memorial Wall are included in the Pennsylvania DUI Association's Memorial Garden in Harrisburg. PennDOT's Northeast Highway Safety Program sponsored Tuesday's event.


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