Students at Newark High School are receiving a sobering message about the ultimate consequences of driving while intoxicated. On display in the foyer of Newark High School is the exhibit: “One Second, Everything Changes.” The exhibit chronicles the lives of four Steuben County teenagers who tragically died in a DWI accident during their homecoming weekend. Included in the exhibit are personal mementos of the teens. The exhibit, which was created by the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation, focuses on the September 2007 crash that killed the four teens in the Steuben County Town of Jasper. Three of the teens were students at Jasper-Troupsburg High School and the fourth teen was a recent graduate. One of the teens, 17 year-old Tiara O’Dell, was named homecoming queen just hours before her death. The police investigation showed that the teens were at a party before the crash and that the driver was intoxicated. “The exhibit sends a very important message to our young adults who will see that making the wrong choice to drink and drive or be a passenger in a vehicle that is operated by a person who has been drinking, can have devastating results”, said Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts, who is also the County STOP-DWI Coordinator. “It is my hope to prevent this kind of tragedy, or any other alcohol- or drug-related tragedy here in Wayne County with our STOP-DWI prevention, education and enforcement efforts” further stated Virts. Newark Chief of Police David Christler stated, “Every life we lose tragically becomes another story, and with the help of the Newark School District, we hope to keep our young people informed, responsible and alive.” Newark High School Principal Thomas Roote added, “The display is particularly powerful to me given an experience one of my closest friends went through following our Senior Prom. “Scott” awoke in the early morning hours after a post prom party. He left the party thinking he was fine. He was not. Upon entering a roadway he struck a pedestrian and left the scene. The pedestrian recovered, but was permanently disabled. Scott has since passed away and carried the guilt of this event to the grave. My entire graduating class still carries the trauma of this post prom event. Preventing this from happening to Newark teenagers is important to me and as a result I was a welcome recipient of the display. Seconds after the display was completed I was able to gaze on it with one or our seniors. He was the beneficiary of my story. This would have not happened without the display.” The exhibit is not only for students but also for parents, since there have been many alcohol parties hosted by parents. The Sheriff added that new social host laws hold people accountable for hosting parties where alcohol is served. “We also want the parents to think about these issues and understand that the impact of an alcohol-related crash will last a lifetime” stated the Sheriff. Wayne County STOP-DWI partnered with the Newark Police Department and the Finger Lakes Council on Alcoholism to bring the exhibit to Newark. Sheriff Virts stated that any Wayne County school district wishing to host the exhibit should call the County STOP-DWI office at 946-7613 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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