SADD Presentation Urges Students to be Safe while Driving

Grace Elletson , Staff Writer

On the first day back from April vacation, Barnstable High School juniors and seniors piled into the Performing Arts Center for a presentation about destructive driving, organized by the Students Against Destructive Driving (SADD) club. As the presentation began, the PAC was charged with impatient students’ chatter. However, as Barnstable chief probation officer James Butcher began to tell his own personal story about destructive driving, the auditorium fell silent.

Butcher began the presentation by playing a video about a woman named Michelle Sullivan who was convicted of vehicular homicide when she killed her friend, Lisa Sparaco, while driving drunk in 2004. Butcher called this real “reality TV.” The video was of the court the day Sullivan was sentenced to two years in prison. The video not only represented the reality of the consequences drunk and destructive driving have, but it also showed the emotional trauma Sullivan’s family had to endure throughout the process.

Butcher continued to tell students about his own experience with destructive driving. Seven years ago this April, his 18 year old daughter Courtney Butcher was killed in a car crash. What was different about this crash, Butcher said, is that no one in the car was drunk.

“Four out of five kids were killed sober, because an idiot was driving,” Butcher said. He said that the driver, Nate Plaza, was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Butcher explained that the driver was in no way “a bad kid,” but he described him as “a bit of a show-off.”

Butcher said that he had a very close bond with his daughter and that she was attending the University of New Hampshire at the time she was killed. Butcher described his daughter as a smart girl who wouldn’t text and drive or drive drunk, she just happened to get into a car with someone whose primary thought wasn’t concerning safety while driving treacherously.

Sabrina Doherty, junior, thought that the presentation was very “insightful.”

“It opened your eyes to the fact that you don’t have to be driving drunk or on drugs to get into a car crash, you could just be doing something stupid,” Doherty said.

Ms. Krissie Williams, SADD club adviser, said that she thought Butcher’s story was very “heartfelt” and “needed to be told.” She said that the club tries to organize a destructive driving presentation every year and Butcher had actually contacted her to ask if he could tell his story to students. Because the club wasn’t able to organize a mock crash this year she thought Butcher’s presentation was a great idea.

“Some kids at this age this age think that they’re invincible when really life can change in a split second,” Williams said, “Think twice about your decisions.”

Butcher said that he hopes his story will, “get them [kids] to think before they drive recklessly.” He made a point that he never referred to his daughter’s car crash as an “accident.” Butcher made it clear that “a ‘crash’ is preventable.”