Students at Salina Sacred Heart received a real-life, emotional message about the consequences of making bad decision behind the wheel.
The school is participating in the “Seatbelts Are For Everyone”, or SAFE program. As part of the program DARE Officer Scott Trembley, along with Tracee O’Grady from the DUI Impact Center of Kansas, arranged for two people whose lives have been forever changed by drinking and driving, and by not wearing a seatbelt.
One of those who spoke told about an alcohol-related crash he was involved in. Jarrod Blecha told the students about how he was driving drunk and crashed head-on into a family of three. A father and his 6-year-old child were nearly killed in the crash. Because of the crash, the child now suffers from seizures, and has difficulty walking. Jarrod says that everyone involved in the crash was buckled up, otherwise there would have been multiple fatalities. Jarrod was a captain in the Air Force, and at the time of the crash was a civilian attorney. He served six months in a Texas prison on charges related to the crash before being released on “shock probation”. As part of his probation he must talk to groups, and periodically write a letter of apology to the family he hit. He says that he has never heard from the family since the crash. When not telling his story to groups, the former attorney now work in an entry-level position at a fast food restaurant.
Dee Barnhart told her story as well. Barnhart’s 19-year-old son was killed in an alcohol related crash. She told the students that her son was driving drunk, when he rolled his truck, was ejected, and was killed. She said that if he had been buckled up, he would be alive today.
Trembley told the students that these stories are a perfect example of why the SAFE program is so important. Sacred Hear has been involved in the program for three years. He says that the percentage of those at the school who buckle up has remained steady, and around 90 percent. He believes they can do better. Trembley also cautioned the students about “distracted driving” as well.
O’Grady tells KSAL News that the goal is to encourage the students to drive safe, to know when they shouldn’t be driving, and to always buckle up.