Juniors and seniors in Gulf County schools were reminded this week that drinking and driving don’t mix.
In a presentation held Monday at Wewahitchka and Port St. Joe high schools, speaker Renee Napier of the Meagan Napier Foundation spoke to students about the dangers of drinking and driving.
In 2000, Napier’s daughter, Meagan, was killed in Pensacola when Eric Smallridge, driving drunk, crashed his car into Meagan’s killing her and her best friend
With proms on the horizon for both county high schools, Napier stressed the importance of making good decisions and that getting behind the wheel after drinking is never a good one.
She also discussed how those decisions can have ripple effects that go across many families and affect many people.
“It’s all about a choice,” Napier told students. “The choices you make are the ones that are the most important.
In addition to living through the loss of a child, Napier spoke about the feelings she had toward Smallridge, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for manslaughter, though he served less than half that.
Since being released from prison, Smallridge travels with Napier to help students understand the impact that four seconds can make on their life.
“There’s not a lot of good that comes from drinking,” said Smallridge. “One choice changed my life.
“Think about your life—think about what it would mean to throw it all away.”
By signing a pledge not to drink students received hot pink wristbands emblazoned with the words “I promise.”
Napier encouraged the students to enter all conversations positively, warning that a person never knows when they might be speaking to someone for the last time.
Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison brought Napier to the schools in hopes of deterring students from drinking and to educate them about the life changing consequences that drinking and driving can have.