On the anniversary of his accident, Krug, along with his mother, Joyce, and multiple Bartow County Emergency Management System employees, visited Woodland High School to speak with students on the dangers of impaired driving. As part of the assembly, the group presented the short film “Decisions,” filmed locally in Bartow and available for view at the video producer’s website, http://xstreamvideos.com/portfolio/.
“I would prefer to deliver my own message to you today, but these injuries from a DUI car crash 16 years ago prevent me from speaking and doing many other things,” Krug said Wednesday through his iPad, which, along with other technology, allows him to convert text to speech. “My college life ended very suddenly from a DUI crash. The night was supposed to be a wonderful evening for me and my friends, but it did not turn out that way.
“Whenever I have the opportunity to tell my story, I want to remind you that being in the audience was something I have also done, and sometimes I would listen and sometimes I would not. Hopefully you hear something in my story that will save your life or one of your friends. ... This story is not an easy one to tell, but by sharing it, my hope is to save your life.”
Lt. Keith Duncan, of Bartow EMS, described the film “Decisions” as an update of 2008’s “Last Dance,” which also incorporated having EMS employees, as well as volunteers, convene for school assemblies and a presentation of the film.
Approximately 12 minutes in length, the film depicts how a high school student’s decision to drink and drive, using liquor he acquired from home, resulted in the death of two classmates as well as his incarceration. It features local actor Alan J. Sanders and WHS graduate Josh Hare. It also features Eric Krug and another victim of impaired driving, who, along with a felon convicted of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, shared their stories on how one decision radically changed their lives.
Bartow EMS Paramedics Taylor Forsyth and LaRay Harris said “Decisions” was a community effort, featuring the efforts of local businesses, law enforcement and emergency services as well as the Bartow County Teen Center.
“It took us three months or so from the time we filmed the video, to getting everything lined up, to getting sponsors, the whole nine yards,” Forsyth said. “... We’re looking at branching out and taking this thing across the state of Georgia.”
Scott Sherwin of the teen center said the film and assembly outreach coincide with the center’s “Rethink the Drink” campaign, which includes giving students the option to sign a pledge banner at their high school stating they will abstain from drugs and alcohol on prom night. Both he and Forsyth said they shared the same goal when collaborating on “Decisions.”
“We don’t want to see any more kids get hurt because of bad decisions. When prom night comes this weekend, we want them to think of this when they have the option to make a bad decision ... and make a smart decision because of it,” Forsyth said.
Sherwin added, “We want parents to see this and realize they do have a role and a responsibility in this because, sometimes, they think because it’s prom time to look the other way and allow their kids to drink, as in the video. We want them to see they have an absolute responsibility in preventing the access to the alcohol.”
He said the majority of local high school students surveyed through the teen center said they acquired alcohol through family and friends.
When asked about their reaction to the assembly, a common response from WHS students was they learned that a single decision can have life-changing consequences.
Junior Mackenzie White said the day’s assembly was “intense.”
“It touched me. Just to see the effect on peoples’ lives, you don’t really know until someone shows you, and like they said [in ‘Decisions’], it’s just that one second, that one choice you make that can change your whole life,” White said.
Senior Shawn Bryant said while he doesn’t plan to go to any after parties following WHS prom, he felt the assembly’s message might deter other students from engaging in dangerous activity.
“It was really effective. It changes your mind to realize something really can happen at any moment,” Bryant said.
Bryant reiterated a message from the film to parents of fellow classmates that he took from the film.
“Know where your kids are at and don’t let them drink,” Bryant said.
“Decisions” features Martins Wrecker Service, Melissa and Co. Salon, Riley’s Menswear, Bartow EMS, Bartow County Fire Department, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Cartersville Fire Department, Bartow County Coroner’s Office and Erlanger Hospital’s Life Force.
Cass High School will hold its “Decisions” assembly today and Adairsville High School will hold its assembly Tuesday, April 16. Cartersville High School previously held its assembly.