No longer asking, ‘What if?’

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When a tragedy happens — a tragedy that could have been prevented — some people question whether something more could have been done to stop such an event from happening. Many sit back and wonder “what if?”

One such man doesn’t have to answer such a question.

Along with organizations such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one local man — a student — took it upon himself to battle the drunk driving epidemic.

Trae Caton, an 18-year-old senior at Chilton County High School, spent the better part of six months planning an event aimed at saving the lives of his fellow students and preventing others from being victims of a senseless act — drunk driving.

At school Tuesday, Caton’s organizational work came to life, as a mock drunk driving accident scene was laid out before his fellow students, complete with firefighters removing severely injured or killed occupants from crashed vehicles. The scene included coroners declaring victims dead and seeing others injured taken to hospitals by LifeSaver.

Caton’s vision — or nightmare — showed his fellow classmates the lives that could be lost as a result of drinking and driving.

And the timing of his production could not have been any better.

Friday, Chilton County High School’s prom will be held, and the opportunity and temptation for some to drink will be strong. But it is our hope — and Caton’s hope — that the scene displayed Tuesday will force those tempted to choose another option.

According to information provided by the Chilton County High School SADD Chapter, Alabama reported 475 alcohol-related fatalities in 2006, ranking the state as the 13th highest in the nation.

In the same release, during the typical prom weekend in 2005, 290 young people, ages 15-20, were killed in alcohol-related crashes — of those 198 deaths involved a 15-20 year-old impaired driver.

The prom is an important time in a high school student’s life, and it is a shame that irresponsible decisions such as deciding to drive after drinking could ruin that special memory for so many.

Today we applaud Caton and others who stopped asking themselves “what if” and started doing.