‘Don’t be the designated killer’

Joanne Bello

None 4 Under 21 Rally shows adverse effects of alcohol use for high schoolers

Area fire department and paramedic crews pretend to work on high school volunteers during a mock crash yesterday as buses full of students drive by. The None 4 Under 21 Rally is in its fourth year consisting of a series of staged scenes that high school s

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

At yesterday’s None 4 Under 21 Rally, area high school seniors got to see just what it would be like to be involved in an alcohol-related car accident.

About 2,000 students were present at the Kent State Field House to hear testimony from three speakers. The speakers included a prisoner who is finishing a four-year sentence for killing his best friend in a car crash.

Another speaker was a victim of a car crash who is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Finally, a mother and father spoke about losing their son in a crash.

The program also offered students a chance to win money to use toward their prom and graduation. The contest required students create a safety poster.

James A. Garfield High School took the grand prize of $2,500 and Tallmadge High School was the runner-up. It were rewarded $1,000.

Dustin Svab, a Ravenna city police officer and coordinator of the Portage County Safe Communities, said it put on the event every year around prom and graduation season to emphasize the consequences of drinking and driving.

“It’s aimed at educating youth,” Svab said.

“We put on a series of staged events to show the teens what a typical afternoon could be like for them,” he said.

Before heading out to the different mock scenes, the students went through a “Walk of Remembrance,” where poster-sized photos of people killed in crashes were displayed.

The different scenes included a party, a crash, a field sobriety check point with an arrest, a funeral and a grave site.

The students got on buses and drove through each scene where actors in full make-up portrayed the different scenarios.

Life Flight was even flown in to show how they would react to an accident like the one that was set up.

“I hope that all the seniors see the scenes and see how dumb they look when they’re drunk,” said Nikki Spencer, one of the actors at the party scene and junior at Windham High School. “It would be so bad to lose a friend at prom because of drinking. I would hate to see anything happen to any of the seniors from my school.”

The staged party was topped off with fake kegs, liquor bottles, beer cases and a band playing old Beastie Boys tunes.

The mock crash was the most elaborate of the scenes. Fire trucks from surrounding areas, police cars, ambulances and two totaled cars were set up with students looking like they were involved.

“A lot of teens die from drinking and driving and not being responsible,” said Erica Stuart, senior from Streetsboro High School who attended the event. “If one of my friends died from drinking and driving, it would make me think twice about drinking.”

Aurora Fire Chief David Barnes said they tried to set up the crash scene to show students not only what could happen, but also see what the different functions are of the different emergency teams.

“Everyone has a different job, but they all have to work together,” Barnes said. “The smaller cities will have emergency teams from all over because most of their teams are volunteer, like the fire department.

“There will be one person in charge of each division so each person doesn’t have to report to the head person. It makes everything run more smoothly.”

This is the fourth year for the rally. It started in Aurora and used to be held in the old Six Flags parking lot.

Barnes said that because of the unreliable weather, it was moved inside at the university.

Contact public affairs reporter Joanne Bello at [email protected].