Area 30 group talks safety at South Putnam

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tyler Rominger had worn driving-impaired goggles before, but not while attempting to ride a vehicle.

On Tuesday, the South Putnam Junior High eighth-grader did just that, volunteering to wear the goggles while riding a bicycle equipped with training wheels around a track.

"It was fun," Rominger said. "I almost fell down once. It seemed like everything was kind of curved."

Rominger rode the bicycle as did SPHS teacher Debbie Steffy as part of a convocation presented by the Area 30 Career Center Arrive Alive, Take Five team.

Six members and two advisers from the Area 30 team were able to attend Tuesday's convocation, in addition to Putnam County Deputy Mike Johnson, who said wearing the goggles was equivalent to driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of .15.

The Area 30 Arrive Alive, Take Five team has taken its presentation on the road in an attempt to plead with students to wear seat belts on a regular basis. The team provided first-hand accounts for the students at South Putnam Tuesday, including a powerpoint presentation.

"You probably think this is just another convocation, but it's not," team member and Greencastle High School junior Kayla Bumgardner said.

When team member and GHS junior Joel Bottoms fired up the powerpoint presentation, nearly all the students in the South Putnam gymnasium could not take their eyes off the video screen.

Particularly when photos of fellow South Putnam student Nathan Phillips showed up on the screen.

Phillips, a South Putnam junior, was in a car accident with Greencastle junior Logan Campbell in May 2005. The two were airlifted to Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, following the crash.

"If we were not wearing our seat belts, we may not be here today," Campbell told the students Tuesday.

"I had a white shirt on, and in two minutes, it was completely red," Phillips added. "Still to this day, we have glass (inside of us).

"We're just here to tell you to drive safe and wear a seat belt."

Bumgardner then shared a story about two of her friends who died on their way to school in a car accident.

"We're here to share our personal stories," she said. "You don't want your parents to get that phone call."

In addition, North Putnam student Mike Anderson shared a personal account of a car accident he was involved in.

"I hope what we tell you hits hard," Anderson said.

North Putnam's Darrin Burdine also attended Tuesday's presentation as were advisers Linda Merkel and Carrie Howe.

There are nine members on the Arrive Alive, Take Five team. Cloverdale's Kim Doughty, South Putnam's Tiffany King and Eminence's Amber Orebaugh were unable to attend Tuesday's event.

The students decided to put together the team after attending a Teen Safe Driving Forum at Mooresville High School last fall.

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