Login

Alcohol and Seat Belt Awareness Program for local junior and senior students includes Mock Accident

On May 2, an alcohol and seat belt awareness program was presented as a collaborative effort by the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, Haakon County Sheriff's Office, Rush Funeral Home, Philip Police Department, Philip Ambulance Service, Ellsworth Air Force Base Moulage team, Badlands National Park Service, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Pennington County State Attorney's Office, Rapid City Life Flight, Wall Ambulance Service, Wall Volunteer Fire Department, Prairie Schooner Towing and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The program focused upon choices and South Dakota Highway Patrolman Dan Bender reminded the students, staff, parents and community members that seat belt use is not a choice anymore. It is a state law.

Crash

The scene was pandemonium, as high school students looked around the wreckage at their friends. The sound of sirens filled the air as emergency medical services and fire trucks rolled onto the scene. Law enforcement personnel secured the scene and assisted with the injured. Rapid City Life Flight comes on the scene in a medical EVACuation helicopter to transport one victim for treatment. One man, who had been drinking and driving, was led away in handcuffs. Two of the victims died on the scene.

This scenario seems very real and lifelike, as the actors with the help of the Moulage team from Ellsworth Air Force Base helped with applying the mock injuries to the victims. The visual impact of the scene is what the law enforcement agencies hope will affect the choices of the high school students, parents and other audience members when it comes to drinking and to driving under the influence.

The Grief and Resolve

of a Family

John and Candy Kitterman presented a personal story of tragedy to educate the young people of the importance of wearing seat belts and as a personal part of their healing process. Their son, Aaron Kitterman, suffered life threatening and permanent injuries in an automobile crash resulting from a rollover that ejected him 200 feet from the vehicle.

After the audience listened to a 911 tape of the first call for help, the Kitterman's spoke in detail of the injuries and stressed to audience members that in many instances the personnel responding to the scene may know or be related to the victim. That was the case with Butch Kitterman, Aaron's grandfather, who drove his injured grandson by ambulance to Rapid City for treatment.

The Kitterman family bore not only the heartache, but also medical expenses that exceeded $1 million; expenses that continue to date for medical costs associated with the injuries and rehabilitative services.

John and Candy Kitterman's introduced their son, Aaron, from Wichita, Kansas. His resilience and family resolve made it possible for him to survive this tragedy and live to tell his story. Upon his introduction, every person in the audience rose to their feet and welcomed him with a round of applause. Aaron asked the audience to "buckle up".

It's No Party on

Federal Lands

Mark Gorman, Chief Ranger for the Badlands National Park presented the question, why federal lands? Then, he provided an array of answers - I can avoid law enforcement agencies, park rangers aren't real cops, I was just

passing through.

The National Park Service has a zero tolerance for alcohol and will cite violators.

Gorman cited that alcohol is a leading factor in all three of the leading causes of death for individuals 15 to 24 years of age are homicide, auto crashes and suicide. Gorman further cited that one out of every two accidents in South Dakota are alcohol related. Gorman said, "drinking and driving is a serious safety issue you need to take to heart."

Impairment Begins

with the First Drink

Lila Doud remembers the date of her daughter's automobile accident vividly - December 18, 1983. One week before Christmas, her daughter suffered serious injuries in a wreck caused by a drunk driver with prior offenses.

When the driver appeared in court for subsequent driving under the influence offenses, Doud explained her concern that the driver, who injured her daughter, would kill somebody, as he continued to violate the law by drinking and driving.

What happened to her daughter prompted Doud to become involved with MADD, where she has volunteered for the past 23 years. Doud now speaks out against drinking and driving and supports the mission of MADD; to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime, and prevent underage drinking.

Remember his face;

he is not just a number

Cindy Crocker shared her family's tragedy. Her husband, Andrew, the father of her two young children, went for a jog one day and never returned home. During her search, she came upon a road block where law enforcement officials told her that her husband was killed by a drunk driver who fled the scene.

Crocker said, "Our lives were shattered by the choices of one individual". Not only did the loss affect the family. It affected the community where her husband taught science in the local school, volunteered at the YMCA, and served as a Cub Scout leader.

The driver received a sentence of 15 years in prison and will be 37 years old upon release.

"If you have been drinking, you are not in control", said Crocker as she showed the audience pictures of her young husband. She said, "He is not just a number".

Legal Issues

Roxie Dexter, Pennington County State's Attorney Office, shared another facet of drunk driving, the legal system. Dexter spoke to the audience with two caskets in the background, a silent reminder of the consequences of drinking and driving.

Dexter explained that the South Dakota Courts have a zero tolerance for underage drinking. Offenders of any age must face the repercussions of the criminal courts including civil litigation for restitution. Additionally, employability and insurability are affected when an individual is convicted of any crimes associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Living Sober,

Clean, and Free

Jamie Kuchenbecker, a representative from the Rapid City/Pennington County Alcohol and Drug Programs, spoke of her experiences working with those seeking treatment and Youth to Youth, a program that teaches its

members abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Kuchenbecker said, "I have seen a lot of families devastated by bad

choices." She closed the presentation by sharing stories from families she has worked with. One individual told her, that he wished law enforcement would have picked him up before he had killed the other person.