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Garrett seeks to educate teen drivers

Jennifer Carnley Garrett lost her brother in a one-vehicle accident in 2001. Blake Carnley was 14 years old. Helping others avoid that pain is a constant focus of her life.

“Teenagers think that ‘it won’t happen to me,’ and we pray that it won’t, but too often it does,” Garrett said. “I wanted to find a way to let teens know that car crashes can happen to anyone, but there are things that they can do to protect themselves and save themselves from injury or death.”

Garrett heard Bill Richardson’s presentation “It Won’t Happen to Me” at Pike Liberal Arts School and realized the program’s value in helping to eliminate the number one cause of teen deaths.

“Bill Richardson has such a powerful message, and it’s one that all teens and parents need to hear and should hear,” Garrett said. “When I began to mention bringing Bill Richardson back to Pike County for a free presentation for all teens and parents there was a lot of interest and support and now it will happen.”

The “It Won’t Happen to Me” presentation is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, at Cattleman Park. Admission is free.

In addition to the presentation by Richardson, several local speakers will share their own experiences with vehicle accidents.

“Scherryl Harrison from the district attorney’s office will talk about Alabama law for teenage drivers,” Garrett said. “We’ll also have a mom who will speak about the loss of her daughter and others who will speak about how the loss of a friend has affected their lives. We don’t often think about the effect that a tragic vehicle accident has on the first responders so we’ll have someone to speak from that perspective.”

A state trooper will be on the program to talk about seatbelt safety.

“The state trooper will bring dummies to show what happens to a person during a car crash,” Garrett said. “When you’re behind the wheel, what you do can change many lives so you have to always be aware of everything around you. We believe those who attend this free program will come away better prepared to make the right decisions when they are on the road and will not become a statistic.

“We want our teens to know that we love them and want them to be safe. So, whether a teen is learning to drive, just started or is a ‘seasoned’ teenage driver, this is an event that they are encouraged to attend along with their parents. It can make a difference in their lives.”

The “It Won’t Happen to Me” program is sponsored by South Alabama Electric, the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association, Piggly Wiggle 231, Horn Beverage and the UPS Store.

Anyone who would like more information about the program or would like to assist in providing refreshments or in other ways is encouraged to call Garrett at 268-6469 or online at jcgpw@live.com.