Celebration ends with DUI, taser, destruction of campus property

21st birthday bash a real shocker
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Posted Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 12:00am

"An anonymous call was made to public safety dispatch at appropriately 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 24 reporting reckless driving of Coc Cac Gerardo, a local, in his white minivan. When officers spotted the vehicle northbound on 400 East and turned on the flashers, Gerardo did not pull over. After running the stop sign at 400 North, Gerardo hopped the curb onto the CEU campus and proceeded on a crash course that demolished a bench, a tree, a light pole and then ran head on into the cement wall surrounding a fountain," said Price City Police Chief, Aleck Shilaos. "After he hit the wall he jumped from the van and attempted to get away on foot. By that time another officer had made it to the scene and was forced to stun Gerardo in order to stop the mayhem."

Following his arrest, Gerardo was charged with DUI, possession of alcohol, evading and resisting arrest. The estimate for damages to the campus could be anywhere from $2,700 to $3,500, according to head of CEU campus police, James Prettyman.

Several colleges and universities started a program to aid in preventing students from going overboard when they come of age. Students turning 21 years-old will receive a birthday card in the mail aimed at helping them celebrate the milestone more responsibly.

Many students view high-risk drinking as a rite of passage during their college years, with their 21st birthday being a particularly dangerous event. News accounts each year tell of students who die from alcohol poisoning due to excessive drinking e.g., 21 shots on their 21st birthday.

Unfortunately, students often do not realize the dangers of consuming large quantities of alcohol. Nationally, an average of 27 college students die every week, 1,400 students each year from an alcohol-related incident.

Research from Michigan State University shows that the 21st birthday card program, which involves mailing students a celebratory birthday card, congratulating them on their special milestone and reminding them that if they do decide to drink alcohol, there are important tips to drinking responsibly and staying safe to see their 22nd birthday.

In order to evaluate the programs effectiveness, a month after their birthday students will be encouraged to fill out a questionnaire related to the effectiveness of the information provided on the card.

Students have reported at several universities, including Michigan State, Kansas State, the University of Georgia and the University of Delaware that this program effectively provided them with healthy tips for celebrating more responsibly which resonated with them throughout their birthday activities.

According to a national study conducted by the department of transportation, 25,000 people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents.

One American life is lost every 20 minutes in alcohol related auto crashes.

As the statistics role on it becomes apparent just how dangerous this day can be for many individuals. It is estimated that one out of every two Americans will be involved in an alcohol related accident in his or her lifetime and it is reported that alcohol related crashes are the leading cause of death for young Americans between

the ages of 16 and 24.

For all Americans between 5 and 35 years, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death. Over 50percent of these accidents are caused by alcohol impaired drivers.

Recent Alcohol Involvement

• Over 50 percent of all fatal highway crashes involving two or more cars are alcohol related.

• Over 65 percent of all fatal single car crashes are alcohol related.

• Over 36 percent percent of all adult pedestrian accidents are alcohol related.

• Of all fatal alcohol related auto crashes 80 percent occur between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

• Of all adult pedestrian accidents involve an intoxicated pedestrian 36 percent are under the influence of alcohol.

Of every 200 to 2,000 alcohol impaired drivers on the road, only one is arrested. Therefore, the probability of getting caught is slim. Of those who are caught, few receive a serious penalty.

The average alcohol-impaired driver arrested on the highway has a blood- alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20 percent, double the level for presumed intoxication in most states; that is 14 drinks of 86 percent proof liquor (or 14 beers) in four hours for a 180 pound man.

When drinkers are at the presumed level of intoxication, the risk of causing an accident is six times greater than for non-drinking drivers. Although persons between 16 and 24 years old comprise only 20 percent of the total licensed population, and 20 percent of the total vehicle miles traveled in this country by all licensed drivers, they cause 42 percent of all fatal alcohol related crashes.

Although the United States has one of the safest highway systems in the world, due in part to design characteristics, guard rails, highway markings and signs. We have relatively few fatalities per 100-million miles driven. But the portion of our accidents involving alcohol is among the highest in the world.

An accident by an alcohol-impaired driver is the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States.

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