MADD asks students to have a safe prom, graduation

Dave Mathieson
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Denise Dubyk, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, gave two presentations to students yesterday at ARHS. 

AMHERST - Every day four more people in Canada have a tragic story to tell about how an impaired driver killed somebody close to them.

"On average, every single day in Canada four people are killed and 174 people are injured due to impaired driving. That is each and every day," said Denise Dubyk, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Just think about those numbers. Think about the families that don't have a loved one coming home, or someone with an injury that lasts their whole life."

Dubyk has her own story, which she told to students yesterday at Amherst Regional High School.

"The reason I'm involved with MADD Canada is because in May of 2,000 my son-in-law Darrell was killed in an impaired driving crash," said Dubyk. "He left behind my daughter and their two young sons. They were two and six at the time. Dylan is now 19 and Joshua is 15."

Darrell was a passenger in a vehicle with an impaired driver.

"One of the things we do is trust our friends and trust the people we know to get us home safely but that didn't happen," said Dubyk. "The driver crashed into the back of a parked commercial moving van on the passenger side of the pickup truck they were in.

"Darrell was broken and shattered and died instantly at the scene and we never had a chance to say goodbye."

Dubyk said her heart broke that day and continues to break.

"Through all these years I still see his sons, looking, wondering and needing that man figure in their lives and they don't have it," she said. "My heart broke that day, my heart broke from the pain I saw in them, and my heart breaks even today because getting that knock on the door from the police letting us know we lost a loved in an impaired driving crash broke our hearts."

Dubyk was visiting 30 schools in the Maritimes, including River Hebert High School.

"This is an important time of the year with prom and grad and after-grad parties coming up and summer time starting," said Dubyk. "We know that crashes for young people happen so frequently and especially through the summer months and the prom season, which should be one of the most important entry times into adulthood for everyone."

Dubyk presented a film called, "The Long Weekend," that featured four teenagers on a trip out to a cottage.

After partying through the night, and into the next morning, one of the teenagers decides to go to the store to get some ice cream. He is impaired and crashes into another car. He ends up dying and so does the driver of the other car, a man with a wife and young daughter. His girlfriend will have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

The teen is taken into the past to relive the weekend events that what led up to the crash.

After the movie, Dubyk asked what different decisions should have been made during the weekend?

"Plan ahead, stay the night, take the keys. Don't be afraid your boyfriend will be mad if you take the keys," said Dubyk. "Carry the ball from now on. Get the message out there."

Heather Duncan, field representative for the Atlantic Region of MADD Canada set up the projector for the presentation.

"The movie is relatable to the students," said Duncan. "We do a new one every year, so we keep it up to date with their interests and we get a lot of feedback from students and take that into consideration. They see things in the movie that they see (in their lives).

The movie also featured testimonials from people who have suffered the loss of loved ones from impaired drivers.

"With the testimonials it's not about the shock, it's the emotional connection they feel to those stories," said Duncan. "There are different perspectives, like the fathers story. A student came up to me after today's presentation and said that, being a guy, he related to the fathers story more than anything else.

"If one student listens and takes this and changes something in their behavior or their future then it's worth it, but I hope it connects with more," she added.









Organizations: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Atlantic Region of MADD Canada, Amherst Regional High School River Hebert High School

Geographic location: Canada, AMHERST

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