By Joseph Barrios
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A new project organized by the Pima County Attorney's office is asking UA students to help educate high school students on the dangers of drinking and driving.
The project was organized in part by Barbara LaWall, chief administrative deputy for the attorney's office.
LaWall decided to pursue the project after she helped prosecute a Tucson business known to sell liquor to minors. One underage student from Salpointe Catholic High School died in a drinking-and-driving-related accident after buying liquor from the store.
"I had this first-hand experience of how awful it is when a young person dies," LaWall said.
She started by contacting Salpointe, where four students died during the 1992-93 school year from alcohol-related accidents. Her efforts have now culminated in a filmed dramatization illustrating how these acts can result in death.
In the film, a series of flashbacks are used to show how a character is killed after drinking and driving. The character attends a party, gets drunk and gets involved in an accident. The movie begins with the character absent from his high school graduation and ends with his father identifying his body at the morgue.
About 40 Tucson-area students from Salpointe, Flowing Wells and Pueblo high schools were involved in the making of the film.
But organizers want college students to present the film and teach courses to high school students because of something LaWall calls the "ripple effect."
"I want young people teaching young people because (high school students) are listening to them," LaWall said. "What we don't want is adults."
LaWall said that while adults can participate in the program, she said high school students would be more receptive towards college students because they can be looked at as role models, LaWall said.
"The younger students look up to their older peers," said Ryan Mihalyi, a Salpointe sophomore and actor in the film.
"It was amazing how the community came together to support this," said Ken Janes, Pima County chief investigator. "I felt like a wheeler dealer."
Janes, who arranged the filming, said a wrecked car and a hearse and casket are used to make the film as accurate as possible.
"We didn't want to glorify a fatal accident," Janes said.
A walk-in training session is scheduled to be held at Salpointe on May 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and University of Arizona students are invited to attend. No pre-registration is required. Read Next Article