By Larry E. Ross, III
Prom night is just around the corner for a group of juniors and seniors at Natchitoches Central High School (NCHS). Every two years for approximately the last 15 years, NCHS and its School Based Health Center presents a demonstration on the consequences of drunk driving. This year, they not only focused on one of the “drivers” being drunk, but also responding to a text message.
The planning for this year’s demonstration began in January. Robin Guillory, coordinator of the demonstration, is the counselor at the school’s health center. She said tryouts were held in January and the students practiced after school hours during March to get ready for their big day.
Shamarr Rice, 17, was the “drunk driver” who caused the crash while trying to respond to a text message. He was the only person to not sustain any major injuries. He was put through sobriety testing per the drill of this demonstration. His passenger, Emily Bumgardener, sustained a broken arm and a few lacerations and contusions. The second driver was Jaden Roberson. Because of her injuries, she “died” before EMS could arrive. Her other passengers, Deronique Slater and Ladacia Bolton, had lacerations, bruises and in Ladacias case, a fracture in her leg.
The students did an outstanding job during the demonstration. They were thrown a curveball when all of the first responders were delayed en route to the school. The prolonged their skit and recovered well once they saw the responders coming.
Students weren’t the only ones involved with the demonstration. Noershe Foster and Easter Bradley played concerned parents, who were distraught when they couldn’t find their children. Pastor Stanley Clemons of Freedom Life Church consoled the families. Natchitoches Police Department, Natchitoches Fire Department, Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (NRMC) EMS, and Pafford Air One were among the first responders.
The cars used for the demonstration were donated by Cedar’s Towing and Wholesale Unlimited. They helped deliver and arrange the demolished cars. Makeup for the participants was done by Ciera Jenkins, a student in the Creative and Performing Arts department, and Larry E. Ross, III, an NSU alum and former scare actor at Dark Woods Haunted House.
“No one has the right to destroy their life or the life of anyone else,” Larry Atteridge, NRMC EMS supervisor said. “I lost two family members to a drunk driver when I was 17.” His message rang clear and was very strong on the consequences of drunk driving.
John Wynn, City of Natchitoches Fire Chief, said that approximately 330,000 vehicular accidents are alcohol related. His message to the students was “Be responsible for your actions.”
The students who participated said it was a fun experience, even though it was on a very serious subject matter. Some said they were very nervous when the demonstration began but soon relaxed into the situation.
For all students, if you are going to prom, be safe and have fun. Make good decisions and as Guillory said, “Think first.” Make responsible choices. No life is worth losing, including your own.