Monday, May 15, 2006

Underage Drinking Rally

When: Thursday, May 18, 2006 at 1:30 PM
(arrive at 1:00 PM to organize)

Where: Durham County Courthouse
201 E Main St
Durham, NC 27701-3640

Why: In an effort to capitalize on the anticipated national and local media coverage generated by the scheduled arraignment of Duke Lacrosse player, Reade Seligman, on May 18th, we are taking the opportunity to put ourselves in front of the media to bring focus to the dangers of underage drinking and the health and safety issue this presents for all communities. This Rally is not against Duke, its lacrosse players or Duke's alcohol policies. Please do not take this opportunity to express your personal views about the case.

The Plan: A Rally scheduled for 1:30 PM might work to our best advantage. (Seligman's arraignment is on the Court's afternoon docket, which convenes at 2:30pm. If we stage our rally at 1:30 pm, then we won't be competing for attention. This legal arena, we are finding out, is dynamic and continuances occur, as in the case of the 2nd accused, Collin Finnerty, whose arraignment is continued to mid-June. So if we get there and there is a continuance, we will consider it a "mobilization exercise".

Earl handed out a fact sheet and spoke to the media this morning, taking the opportunity presented by a 3rd student charged with rape. The media talked to him about underage drinking and supported the effort. He did not get TV time HOWEVER they also know about our Rally on Thursday and have a heads up!

What to Bring:

1. A BIG SIGN that says some variation of the following:
      • United Against Underage Drinking
      • Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking
      • Stop Underage Drinking
      • Underage Drinking: A Problem in Every Community
2. Several warm bodies to hold signs
3. A "smart" looking outfit, in case you are on TV.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Teens get a shot of reality


CHAPEL HILL -- For a half hour, Chapel Hill High School seniors sat in the bleachers and watched their soccer field become a make-believe bloodbath.

It started with a glimpse. A slight breeze lifted the blue tarp off two mangled cars packed with bodies.

Then the tarp was yanked, setting into motion teenagers' squeals of pain, a drunk driver's arrest, chirping two-way radios and even a UNC Hospitals helicopter whipping up soil.

"I can't feel my legs!" screamed Erin Humphreys, wedged in the back of a Volkswagen Rabbit.

The high school prom was Saturday. The elaborate Friday morning production was an in-your-face attempt to make prom-goers think twice about driving drunk.

The mock crash, planned since December, was arranged by the groups Students Against Violence Everywhere and Students Against Destructive Decisions. They pulled together every local agency that might respond to a real wreck, including the Chapel Hill Fire Department, the Chapel Hill Police, Orange County Emergency Medical Services and UNC Air Care.

"If you look up and see me or one of my colleagues standing over you, you're not having a good day," nurse Chris McGrath with UNC Air Care told students beforehand.

"We are going to poke and prod you in ways you can't believe. You might have a tube sticking out of every hole in your body," McGrath said. "No matter how much pain medicine we give you, you're still going to hurt."

At first, a drunk driver played by student Katie Bennett emerged dazed and blood-splattered from a dinged Chevrolet. Bottles of Budweiser lay sideways under the front bumper.

Her victims were four other Chapel Hill High teenagers in a Volkswagen, which, in the staged scenario, had T-boned the Chevy.

Within minutes, a fire truck roared onto the field. Men hopped out, checked pulses and fired up the Jaws of Life.

One firefighter cracked off the passenger-side door and tossed it on the cement track circling the field. One peeled off the Rabbit's roof like a sardine can.

Before pulling out bodies, emergency workers covered the mangled car's sharp edges with cardboard sleeves. (They look like the jackets Starbucks uses to prevent burned fingers.)

The living were strapped to day-glow yellow backboards and laid out on the cement. "My leg!" Humphreys screamed, quivering in her straps.

One was hauled away in an ambulance. Then came the sound of a UNC Air Care helicopter, drowning out the radio bleeps and Humphreys' wailing as it landed on the field.

Bits of dirt blew everywhere, pecking at faces in the bleachers. Amanda Thomas-Cole, portraying a victim whose head had crashed through the Rabbit's windshield, was carried to the chopper. (For safety reasons, she did not board and take off.)

The firefighters and EMS workers then laid out the dead.

Two of them were put on their backs -- no stretchers -- and covered with white sheets.

Claire Superak, a junior, looked like a ghost in tennis shoes.

"I'm just doing this to protect my classmates," said Thomas-Cole after the stadium had cleared out. "Maybe 80 percent of them won't take it seriously. But if this changes one person's mind, it's worth it."

Contact staff writer Patrick Winn at 932-8742 or