Simulation sends message to students about tragic results from drunk driving

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 3:56 pm

‘I want you guys to have fun tonight but please make good decisions.’ – Roland Nenni, Albion and Holley police chief

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Peyton Sargent lays on the front hood of a vehicle this morning during a drunk driving simulation at Holley Junior-Senior High School.

Peyton and her classmates have prom this evening at The Plantation House in Spencerport. First responders in the Holley community created the simulation this morning to send a message about the sometimes fatal consequences of drunk driving.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period when teen driver-involved crashes rise 14 percent compared to the rest of the year.

Braden Ferranti was a passenger in a vehicle involved in the crash. A Holley police officer, Dillon Black, checks on him. Holley students were told that Ferranti and Kory Puente both suffered serious injuries.

Cade Aina was the driver in the mock accident. Here he is given a test to see if he is impaired. George Barton is the Holley police officer.

Scott Schmidt, an Orleans County coroner and funeral director, was called to the scene. He would declare Peyton deceased and helped put her body in a hearse.

Rachel Sargent, Peyton’s mother, is giving the tragic news about her daughter. Rachel said she reacted with grief because she wanted to send a message to her daughter’s classmates about how serious the consequences can be to driving drunk or impaired.

After the crash simulation, students went into the school auditorium where there was a mock arraignment and sentencing for Aina. Joanne Best, the public defender is at left. Dillon Black, the Holley police officer, leads Aina away in handcuffs.

If this was a real case, Aina would have been charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, and vehicular assault, which has a seven-year maximum.

Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church used to be Aina’s Little League coach in Albion. He said Aina had a spotless record until the crash. The judge asked the students how many would sentence Aina to the maximum of 15 years in prison. No one put up their hand. The students favored a lesser sentence and Church said he would likely give someone in a similar case a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

Aina, in that scenario, might not be out of prison until his mid-20s and then would be on parole with supervision. He would see his job prospects severely diminished and would have to pay court fines and attorney fees, Church said.

Roland Nenni, the Albion and Holley police chief, urged students “to be courageous” and not ride with a drunk driver or someone impaired by drugs. In back are Judge Sanford Church, District Attorney Joe Cardone, and Public Defender Joanne Best.

People impaired or drunk shouldn’t drive and Nenni told them to call 911 if they feel stranded and can’t get a ride. Nenni said he has authorized Holley and Albion police officers to give teens a ride if they are impaired or drunk, or don’t want to ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. Nenni said they wouldn’t face criminal charges in those instances when they need help. (Albion also has its prom tonight at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.)

The police chief is also a former Holley fire chief chief. He has responded to many fatal accidents. Those tragedies happen too often because of bad choices from drivers, Nenni said.

“I want you guys to have fun tonight but please make good decisions,” he told the Holley students.

District Attorney Joe Cardone also told students he has prosecuted many cases where a drunk driver killed someone or caused serious injuries, “due to a few moments of a bad decision.”

“Maybe you think it can’t be you, but it can be you,” Cardone said.

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