Student campaigns against drunk driving

May 11th, 2008    Author: Michael Bradley    Filed Under: News

Amelia High School senior Heather Pendergrass never wants to see another student become a drunk driving statistic.

Therefore, as part of Heather’s West Clermont Senior Exit Action Project, she studied and researched drunk driving fatalities, wrote a research paper on the topic, prepared and presented power-point presentations to different groups, and set up a display of crosses in front of the Amelia High School in memory of those young people killed in alcohol related crashes.

Pendergrass, 18, also made an accompanying large sign to hover over the crosses to further discourage drinking and driving.

“I chose this action project because it is a topic that interests me,” she said while setting up the crosses May 1. “I am on a mission to get harsher laws for OVI and DUI offenders – I don’t think they are strict enough.”

Pendergrass said that the issue hits close to home because her father is a police officer and her mother's cousin was killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision six years ago.

The 50 crosses that Pendergrass have set up in front of the high school (they will remain in place for a couple of weeks) represent the 250,000 people who have died from alcohol-related accidents in the U.S. the past 10 years.

"Each cross stands for 5,000 of those senseless deaths," she said.

Pendergrass, who wants to be a nurse, said that she wants every student who drives into and out of school every day to see the message, read the message, and then adhere to the message.

"My message is that you can have fun without alcohol," she said. "If you choose to drink and drive a vehicle, the consequences are right here for all to see."

Safe Communities Inc. director Martha Enriquez said that she was inspired by a teenager like Pendergrass who has such unusually strong feelings about this issue.

"She is standing up for what she believes in," Enriquez said. "Her project is important and necessary especially around this time of year what with proms, graduation, and partying being a big deal for young people. Heather is willing to do something to save lives and that is a big deal."
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