- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

GALLIANO, La. (AP) - One by one, oversized dominoes fell to the gymnasium floor, each representing someone affected by a fatal crash.

Student, family, friends, the sheriff’s office, state police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and District Attorney’s Office, the props read. They were part of Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant II’s annual “Domino Effect” program that teaches high school seniors about the consequences of impaired or distracted driving.

Morvant brought the program to South Lafourche High School. Students saw videos of a girl who was severely injured after texting and driving and another who was the sole survivor of a crash that killed her friends after the group had been drinking.

“You can go through life and make mistakes; I’ve made my share,” Morvant told the students. “And what we try to do when we make a mistake is … tell the person we’re sorry. If you’re in a crash and you’ve been drinking, or if you get a crash because you’re texting someone, and somebody else dies, all the sorrys in the world are not going to change that.”

Morvant said he started “The Domino Effect” in the spring of 2003, a few months after taking office, because of a high number of cases he saw that involved young people driving while impaired. He added texting and driving to the presentation a few years ago.

He told the students that the law requires drivers to submit to a blood test if they cause a crash and a law enforcement officer believes they’re impaired.

Morvant said after a fatal crash, the victim’s family will visit his office and he’ll grieve with them.

“And then the conversation’s going to turn and they’re going to ask me, ‘What are you going to do about that person that killed my daughter?’ Or killed my son or killed my wife or my husband,” he said. “The family of the person who caused the crash is going to call and come in and talk to me … and the question will come up. ‘How long is my husband, my daughter, my husband, my wife going to jail?’ Those are conversations that I do not look forward to.”

Guest speaker Greg Eymard, of Galliano, lost his only son in a crash April 13, 2002. Jacob was a South Lafourche graduate and left behind two children.

The driver, who was impaired, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“Ten years of his life went away for what happened that night,” Eymard told the students. “You know what happened to me and my wife? We got a life sentence.”

After the presentation, he said he hopes the students realize that their choices can have lifelong consequences for everyone involved.

Seventeen-year-old Laney Boura of Golden Meadow, said Eymard’s story touched her.

“I was trying not to cry too hard,” she said. “My brother was in an accident last year. It was bad, and he has four little kids. We thought we were going to lose him. … This is the perfect age to relate, to try to prevent it. We could be the start of it stopping.”

Principal Gaye Cheramie said the program’s message applies to both students and adults.

“I used to (text and drive),” she said. “After you see this, it’s not worth it. None of us are so important that the world’s going to end if we don’t check that text message.”

Eighteen-year-old Zachary Breaux of Cut Off called the presentation eye-opening and said the videos of the crash victims stood out to him most.

“It just shows you how it could happen to anybody,” he said. “We’re going off to college, jobs. We’re out in the real world, and anything could happen.”


Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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