‘Project Prom’ a grim reminder for NY teens tempted to drive drunk

BEEKMANTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) It’s high school prom season, and in Beekmantown, New York, first responders are painting a grim picture for kids tempted to get behind the wheel if they are drunk or high.

Firefighters, first responders, and even funeral home officials gathered Thursday morning at Beekmantown Central High School to show the junior and senior classes just what drinking and driving can do.

Multiple agencies set up a mock accident to show students what they see on prom nights.

“I’m making a vow to never to get into the car with anybody whose been drinking, or never get behind the wheel,” said one student.

“It was very emotional as well, because this stuff really happens, and all the responders actually do this. This is a real thing, they’re not acting, and it’s real for them,” said another student.

The mock crash started as a head on collision. Crews rushed to the scene.

“It’s really hard to go through that,” said the student portraying the driver. “I wasn’t actually a drunk driver, but I felt like she was screaming at me saying, what did I do, and I heard the father and it was really tough. And I cant imagine being a drunk driver and going through that or being one of the families affected from any of that.”

The message — don’t give into peer pressure.

“The biggest thing we hope they get is for them to make the right choices — to not drink and drive, to not get behind the wheel with someone who’s under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, to make that choice and say, ‘I’m not going with you,'” said Beekmantown Fire Chief Darryl Menard.

And an emphasis on the importance of calling somebody before getting behind the wheel. “The biggest thing is we want to know you’re safe — as a parent. That call — your parent’s will not be mad at you at that moment. They are going to say, ‘I’m coming to get you.’ They’re going to be extremely happy you called them. You made the right choice. You’ll probably discuss it the next day and that’s fine,” Menard said.

“You know all it takes is one time and they can’t take it back,” said Rick Hazen, a career firefighter that created Project Prom in 1993.

Organizers say they know they can’t save everyone, but if they can save just life, it’s all worth it.

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