Safe driving event aims to reach teens

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, January 9, 2014

A compelling, first-hand account of the toll taken by drunk driving will highlight the fourth-annual Pike County Teen Safe Driving Event.

Scheduled for Friday, Jan. 17, at the Pike County Cattleman’s Association Complex, doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the speaker begins at 6 p.m. The event will feature Renee Napier, president and founder of The Megan Napier Foundation Inc.

Napier’s daughter, Megan, and her friend Lisa were killed by a drunk driver in 2002.

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“Their story is kind of a journey of heartache plus forgiveness mixed into one,” said Jennifer C. Garrett, organizer of the event. “And it will really drive home why you don’t want to drink and drive.”

Eric Smallridge, the driver who caused the death of Napier’s daughter, was sentenced to 22 years in prison. And, during the grieving process, Napier came to forgive Smallwood. Soon, she began her journey of sharing her story to audiences as varied as high schools and colleges and the military. In 2010, Smallwood was granted permission to join Napier in her speaking campaign.

“We’re waiting for confirmation on whether or not he’ll be able to attend this event,” said Garrett. If he does, Smallwood shares a bold recounting of the crash and his life in prison. “It’s a powerful story,” Garrett said.

In addition to the Napier Foundation presentation, the Teen Safe Driving Event will feature a number of activities and informational opportunities. Representatives of the Troy Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Boys and Girls Clubs, Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center and ABC Board will be on hand with demonstrations, information and materials to help promote safe driving in Pike County.

The program is free of charge and open to all drivers, from teens to 100-year-olds.

The annual event began four years ago, in the wake of a pair of tragic accidents that claimed the lives of three Pike County teenagers. Garrett, who also lost a brother to a car wreck, felt called to put together a program to help teens learn about the importance of safe driving.

From warning of the dangers of drunk driving and speeding to promoting community-wide campaigns to warn against distracted driver and texting while driving, the Teen Safe Driving event has reached hundreds of young drivers and their parents. Sponsors of this year’s even include Horn Beverage, Griffin Wilkes Insurance, the UPS Store, and the Pike County Cattleman’s Association.

Anyone wanting more information about the project can email or visit