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Life’s Lessons. “Crash Course: A Survival Guide for Teens, Parents & Professionals” March 12, 2009 Liz Orlando & Greg Gecik. June 7, 2002 Before the Accident. It Couldn’t Happen To Me. How many people in the audience today have a best friend in the audience?.

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Life s lessons l.jpg
Life’s Lessons

“Crash Course: A Survival Guide for Teens, Parents & Professionals”

March 12, 2009

Liz Orlando & Greg Gecik

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June 7, 2002Before the Accident

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It Couldn’t Happen To Me

How many people in the audience today

have a best friend in the audience?

What if you almost killed that person because

you decided to Speed, Drink and Drive

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June 8, 2002The day of the accident

A beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. Saturday

errands were about to begin when an unmarked police car pulled into the driveway and two blue uniformed Officers made their way down the driveway …..

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June 8, 2002A Mother’s Terror

First Officer: “There’s been a terrible accident. Your

son has been lifted by helicopter to Morristown

Memorial Hospital. We’ll stay with your daughter.

I’m sorry. He is in critical condition. You need to

leave now. You need to hurry. He may not be

alive when you get there. We’ll stay with your

daughter. Yes, we’ll call her grandmother.”

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June 8, 2002A Mother’s Terror

We don’t plan as parents to have to say good-bye.

It is an unthinkable journey and one that you could never be prepared for.

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June 8, 2002Morristown Memorial Hospital

Frontal skull fracture

Right temporal hypo density

Left pubic ramus fracture

Rib fractures

Spleen and liver lacerations

Traumatic Brain Injury

Basal Skull Fracture

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

Cerebral edema


Eight of these were life threatening

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June 8, 2002Morristown Memorial Hospital

Glascow Coma Scale: 3

3 being the lowest score – no response

3 being severe brain injury

At 8 or below for over 6 hours – 50% die

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June 8, 2002Morristown Memorial Hospital

Doctor advises family and friends

come in to say good-bye

Next 48 hours will tell us if he will

live or die

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June 11, 2002Morristown Memorial Hospital

Greg moves his left leg

Greg lifts his left hand

Brief periods of eye opening

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June 20, 2002Children’s Specialized Hospital

The recovery begins….

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So What Actually Happened

High Speed Motor Vehicle Accident –

Clocked at 126 miles an hour on Rt 78 with impact

approximated at 86 miles an hour

Passenger (Greg) – Life threatening injuries

Driver – Walked away from the accident with

a chipped tooth

Driver found to be under the influence of alcohol

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So What Actually Happened

Driver was indicted on two criminal accounts:

-Deliberate act with the knowledge of a high degree of probability of harm and reckless indifference

-Indifference to Human Life

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So What Actually Happened

Driver faced 10-13 years in

State Prison if convicted at


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August 20, 2002

Greg turns 17 and celebrates his

birthday in the hospital

What does the future hold?

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Greg’s Story

What do I remember about the accident?

Absolutely Nothing

If I cram for my exam tomorrow, how much

will I retain?

Absolutely Nothing

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Greg’s Story

What was it like after the accident?

How did my life change?


Permanent Memory Loss

Facial Paralysis

Memory Deficiencies

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Greg’s Story

But why I am really here today is to

talk about Choices.

The Choices each of us make every day

And how in a split second, lives can be

torn apart and changed forever

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Greg’s Story

Choices and Decisions

Who do I hang out with? How old are they?

Are they a good influence or bad?

Am I doing this just to fit in?

Would my parents approve?

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Another Lesson

Distractions happen every second while driving – Be Alert!!

Don’t drink and drive … drinking causes changes mentally and

physically …you need to be able to react at a moment’s notice

Don’t text when you drive, don’t talk without a headset

Don’t play your music so loud that you can’t hear anything around you

Don’t say your parents don’t understand – talk to them – they have

already been through it

Don’t think what happened to me can’t happen to you


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I had a friend that I never really got to know. His name was

Aaron Hill. We were in the hospital together. Aaron was 17.

He must have looked away for one moment at a video he had

in his hand. His car must have started to drift. When he

looked up, he saw a person walking, he was going to hit

them. He instinctively turned the wheel to avoid hitting them

and slammed into the back of a truck.

My friend, Aaron, spent 6 ½ years in a coma and never left

the rehabilitation center.

He died last year on July 4, 2008.

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So What Happened to the Driver

We agreed to a plea bargain that we wrote:

10 months in County Jail

License revoked for 2 years

AA meetings for 2 years

200 Hours of Community Service

Drug and Alcohol testing for 2 years

Repay the family for out-of-pocket medical expenses



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Let me Leave You With This

Do something for someone else – you’ll be amazed at how

good you feel

Think Before You Act

Smile often, Cry More, Laugh Always ……Be Kind

If talking to you today makes even a handful of you think

twice about drinking and driving … I know my accident

Happened for a reason… it had a purpose and might help

save a life

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We have cried a river of tears and the floods still come

The pain you’ve endured to hard to bear for some

Yet you have remained strong with your constant rebounds

You still have that smile though you don’t whisper a sound

Friends and family have been so dear

With their undying love as they stifle their fear

Some friends still come, some friends have gone

Life has a way of just going on

There is no why, no longer how come

These thoughts become so tiresome

We continue to have faith and pray for you to awake

Till then our memories will be our keepsake

Five years have passed since that frightful day

When the car crashed and the boy we loved lapsed into a

coma taking you far away

The doctors said you would not survive

It was a miracle you were still alive

So we put your care In God’s hands and prayed

That you would live to see another day

As time has passed you’ve had your good days and bad

Our hearts are heavy, we are forever sad

Not as much for us but you

Oh the things we wish you could do

To walk, to talk, to understand

To just reach out and grab my hand

We have missed so much not being able to share the joy

Of reaching milestones we dreamed of when you were just a boy

No graduation day, no senior prom

No more golf dates with dad, no late nights with mom

And your sister mourns for the brother she once knew

You two would argue as brothers and sisters always do

Yet you have always shared a very special bond

She’d do anything for you but she has no magic wand

In memory of Aaron Hill

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If you are interested in having Greg and his mom, Liz, come speak to the students at your school, please email Liz Orlando at - [email protected], and she will coordinate this with you.