Hernando firefighters attend to a teenage “victim” of a drunk driving car crash as other teenagers watch during a “Prom Promise” presentation at Hernando High School. Students were urged to promise to make correct choices about drugs, alcohol and texting while driving during their recent prom night celebrations.

Bob Bakken|DTT

Heading into the final weeks of the school year, high school juniors and seniors have been reminded about the importance of making the right lifestyle choices, especially in light of recent prom events held in honor of the graduating seniors. 

Called “Prom Promise,” students were encouraged to make a promise during the enjoyment of their celebrations to not drink, text or use drugs while driving on prom night, or anytime for that matter, but especially on one of the most memorable nights of their young lives.

Several DeSoto County high schools held Prom Promise activities ahead of the evening, including a recent visit to Hernando High School by police, fire and emergency personnel, along with De’Marco Fomby of Safe Kids Mississippi, whose message was to make prom night the best night of their lives and not the last night of their lives.

“This is not the end of this chapter of your life, this is just the beginning of the rest of your life,” Fomby said. “We’re all here to remind you that your best days are ahead of you.”

Fomby, who does similar presentations across the state, said car crashes kill more teenagers than any other cause of death in the country as well as in Mississippi. Improper seat belt use factored into the high fatality rate among teens.

“More teenagers die in car crashes that any other reason combined,” Fomby said. “In 2015, here in the state of Mississippi, we lost a total of 78 teenagers, ages 15-20 just to car crashes. What is crazy about that number is that over half of those fatalities were due to the fact that they didn’t wear seat belts or they wore them improperly.”

Fomby also used a demonstration with teens wearing goggles to resemble their vision being drunk against youngsters texting while walking to show how reaction times can affect a driver’s response to dangerous situations.

The assembly ended with the students being taken outside in front of the school to view the stark reality of wrong choices.

Two vehicles that had been damaged in car crashes were left to simulate being in a wreck. Other youngsters dressed in prom attire and made up to appear as if they were hurt or killed in the crash were also on the scene, replete with a “dead” body, injured and delusional persons being attended to by police, fire and medical personnel.

County Coroner Jeff Pounders was also on hand to demonstrate what he would be called on to do if he had to respond to a fatal crash. It was all done to remind those attending prom night to remember what might happen if they choose incorrectly.

“I just came up here to ask you to think for yourself,” Fomby said. “Put yourself in some practical situations and make yourself think, ‘Is this a good decision to be made?’ You all are going to have to make those decisions on your own. What I am asking you to do is just think about it.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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