Texting + driving = deadly consequences
KINGSTON — A heartbreaking scene with a powerful message played out on the Kingston Plains Monday morning.
A car crashed had into a tree. A passenger with a bloodied face was unconscious in the front seat.
And several feet away, the driver, later arrested for texting at the time of the crash, rushed over to a young girl who was thrown from the car and found face-down in the grass.
The scene had the elements of a fatal car accident, but it was all part of a video being produced by students in their Modern Media television production class at Sanborn Regional High School.
The class taught by Mark Giuliucci and Brian Gray was hoping for an opportunity to produce its first public service announcement to benefit the school and the community.
Then freshman Jenna Nofsker, 15, of Newton, approached Gray and expressed interest in filming a video about the dangers of texting while driving.
Nofsker said the school’s guidance department asked if the class would produce a texting and driving video at the beginning of the school year.
The police and fire departments became involved and agreed to play an active role, bringing in emergency vehicles and personnel to create a dramatic scene that was filmed and will be used in the students’ educational video.
“People think about drunk driving but they don’t really understand the dangers of texting while driving. It’s definitely a serious thing that needs to be talked about,” Gray said.
The storyline involved three sisters on their way to school. The oldest sister, played by senior Sarah Boisselle, 17, is behind the wheel and receives several text messages while driving to school. At one point, she decides to look down to check a message and veers off the road and crashes into a tree.
Her “sister,” played by Nofsker, suffers a serious head injury in the crash while their younger “sister,” Trina Catena, 7, is thrown from the car and dies at the scene.
Trina has done some local acting and is the daughter of the high school’s guidance director, Michelle Catena.
While her daughter is young, Catena said she hopes the experience will educate her about the dangers of texting and driving and that one day she’ll be able to educate her friends.
The class has produced school-related videos that have been posted on its YouTube channel, but has never filmed a video of this scope, Giuliucci said.
The video is expected to be premiered at the school this fall before it’s added to the YouTube channel, ModernMediaProd2011.
Freshman Sophie Smith, 15, of Kingston, helped spearhead the project with Nofsker. She spent nearly two hours in a bucket on a truck to film angles from the air with help from Kingston police Officer Michael Prescott.
The next step will be editing the video.
“We’ll have to edit a lot of it,” she said.
The filming affected Boisselle on a personal level. She said her best friend was killed in an accident in Maine last November and was texting and not wearing a seatbelt.
Boisselle, who has a 3-year-old niece, was also struck by the image of the young victim in the mock accident.
“You feel it more. It’s easier to have that emotion because it’s a child,” said Boisselle, who was later arrested at the scene by Kingston police Sgt. Michael LePage as part of the storyline and charged with negligent homicide.
Fire Chief Bill Seaman said the department used the filming as a training exercise and an opportunity to use the equipment, including the extrication tools used to free Nofsker from the car.
In addition to Seaman, the department provided six firefighters on a fire engine, three in an ambulance, two in a forestry truck, along with two paramedics from Exeter Hospital.
Seaman said he hopes the video’s message reaches drivers.
“I see it personally when I’m driving down the road. I constantly see cars going by me texting. It’s amazing how big of a problem it is,” he said.
Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. also worked on the project with the school.
“We were able to provide some guidance as to what they could expect at a motor vehicle scene. We’re hoping that this sends a very strong message on how dangerous it is to text and drive. We’re hoping that it sends a very clear message, not only to students, but to the general public,” he said.