A sobering lesson on consequences
By Robin Scott
Deputy Chanze Fowler, with the Hartley County Sheriff’s Office, met with high school juniors at Channing High School on Friday, November 20th to talk about the consequences of drinking and driving. The DWI (driving while under the influence) and Traffic Safety Program was conducted in compliance with the STEP grant awarded to the Hartley County Sheriff’s Office.
Students in Mrs. McLain’s health class watched “Consequences,” an educational video designed to teach teens about the consequences of drinking. The Texas Department of Transportation provided the video to the Hartley County Sheriff’s Office, which shows scenes from a horrific accident that occurred just outside of Austin on September 19, 1999. Jacqueline Saburido and three friends were hit by Reginald Stephey in a drunken driving crash. Since the accident that Jacqui miraculously survived, she has told her story to teens in a statewide anti-DWI campaign in Texas.
Jacqui’s campaign tells of her experience in hopes that it will deter people from drinking and driving. She is featured in television public service announcements, an educational video and print materials produced by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Austin Police Department. Two of Jacqui’s friends were killed in the accident and Jacqui was trapped inside the vehicle, which caught fire. Over 60 percent of her body was burned. In June 2001, Reggie Stephey was convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter for the deaths of Jacqui’s two friends. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $20,000.
The students also had an opportunity to find out how alcohol may impair a person by wearing a pair of fatal vision goggles. The goggles simulate an impairment of a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. Fowler noted, “Several students wore the goggles and preformed field sobriety tasks. It made them realize that if you’re really impaired you really can’t do the things you think you can. None of the students could complete the tasks.” The goggles gave students a glimpse of how an impaired person feels and acts.
Emma Browning, a student, noted “Deputy Fowler’s presentation was very educational. The general consensus was that living in a small town really doesn’t insulate us from big city problems. They exist here just like everywhere. Chanze told the students about some of the situations he has been in as an officer, and they were kind of amazed. We tend to think of things like that happening just on TV.”
Keeping students informed and out of harm’s way is a passion of Deputy Fowler. He stated that he enjoys meeting with students to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving in hopes that they will take to heart the important information about the physical impairment caused by alcohol.
For more information about “Consequences” visit www.helpjacqui.com and for more information about drinking and driving or to request a presentation contact the Hartley County Sheriff’s Office at 235-3142.