Life’s Lessons “Crash Course: A Survival Guide for Teens, Parents & Professionals” March 12, 2009 Liz Orlando & Greg Gecik
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
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 …..
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.”
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.
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 pneumocephalus Eight of these were life threatening
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
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
June 11, 2002Morristown Memorial Hospital Greg moves his left leg Greg lifts his left hand Brief periods of eye opening
June 20, 2002Children’s Specialized Hospital The recovery begins….
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
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
So What Actually Happened Driver faced 10-13 years in State Prison if convicted at trial
August 20, 2002 Greg turns 17 and celebrates his birthday in the hospital What does the future hold?
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
Greg’s Story What was it like after the accident? How did my life change? Challenges: Permanent Memory Loss Facial Paralysis Memory Deficiencies
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
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?
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 ALWAYS THINK ABOUT THE CHOICES YOU MAKE
Distractions 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.
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 THE DRIVER MADE A BAD CHOICE THAT DAY TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT
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
Reflections 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
If you are interested in having Greg and his mom, Liz, come speak to the students at your school, please email Liz Orlando at - firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will coordinate this with you.