Teens Urged to Make Transporation Plans for Prom, Graduation

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Ask seniors at almost any high school about their prom safety plans, and their answers are sobering. I don’t know. It’s not a big deal. While they can’t stop talking about the parties and the dresses, most of them haven’t given any thought to getting there safely – or getting home.

Prom 2017 is this Saturday for both Pflugerville High School and Hendrickson High School, and the Pflugerville Fire Department is determined to put safe driving on students’ minds. The Fire Department will host the 16th annual “To Save Just One” mock collision events mid-morning Thursday at PHS and Friday late morning at HHS. These events for seniors start with a guest speaker inside each school, followed by a mock collision outdoors.

At the Hendrickson program, the guest speaker will have an unusual tie to the school. In 2012 at age 24, Lauren Cherry had been drinking when she drove into group of girls standing on a sidewalk – including Kelly Lane Middle School student Ekia Smith. Registered as a sophomore at Hendrickson High School, Ekia has been home-bound since the accident with severe brain damage and paralysis.  Ms. Cherry plans to share her story of tragedy and regret with Hendrickson students and urge them to be more responsible than she was.

The PHS speaker will be Andi Shimek, who lost her son Kevin in a drunk driving crash in 2009. The Texas State University student was an aspiring model and national water skiing champion when he was killed.

“We’ve timed our program to be on the hearts and minds of seniors at prom and graduation, when they’ll face a huge amount of pressure and temptations, while leaving a lasting impact on them,” said Fire Dept. Public Information Officer Allison Strupeck. “We want to encourage them to think before they drink and to use their positive decision-making skills – whether they’re a driver or passenger.”

The annual Fire Department program involves the generous participation of high school faculty and students, PHI/Stat 2 aerial emergency medical service, PfISD police, Austin-Travis County EMS, and Aus-Tex Towing & Recovery.

“If this multi-agency production saves even one life, then it was all well worth the effort,” Strupeck said.

At the Pflugerville High School event, the faculty leader is Cheryl Painter and the student actors will be:

  • Lead roles:  Alex Zuniga as the deceased, Chris Hawkins as the drunk driver, and Joshua Reddington as a critically injured passenger transported by helicopter.
  • Additional occupants:  Ryleigh Britton, Jarvis Lister, Brandon Wilkerson, and Brianna Godinez.

At the Hendrickson High School event, the faculty leader is Hellen Barczi and the student actors are:

  • Lead roles: Brian Baker as the deceased, Pedro Castaneda as the drunk driver, and Rylee Blevins as a critically injured passenger transported by helicopter.
  • Additional occupants: Joa Quiroz Jr., Khali Sykes, and Hailey Ruiz.