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Computer program a drinking deterrent for Oak Harbor students

Trooper Norm Larsen helps freshman Kim Smith walk in a straight line. Smith was wearing “Fatal Vision” goggles, which helps simulate walking while having a BAC of 0.17.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Trooper Norm Larsen helps freshman Kim Smith walk in a straight line. Smith was wearing “Fatal Vision” goggles, which helps simulate walking while having a BAC of 0.17.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Program aims to deter drinking

“Gross! Gross!” freshman Kim Smith said after seeing a rendering of her face after a DUI crash.

A computer program, Fatal Reflections, was used during Oak Harbor High School’s lunch period Thursday as part of a “Choose to be BuzzFree” pre-prom safety event.

Reflections shows the aftermath of one of six hypothetical situations, in which the student or one of their friends drove drunk.

Smith’s computer scenario said she woke up the morning after a party, still intoxicated from the night before. Her digital driving killed both her passenger and a bicyclist.

The scenario also listed her blood alcohol concentration, a 0.10, and the charges she could face in court.

“The image showed that I was bruised and my forehead was split open. That made me not want to drink,” Smith said.

State Troopers Norm Larsen and Tim Yzaguirre gave students “Fatal Vision” goggles, to see through the eyes of a person with a 0.15 BAC.

Sophomore Ally Tennial struggled to stay upright in heels as she walked-the-line with goggles.

“It’s really eye-opening,” Tennial said. “A lot of people in high school are still exploring these issues.”

People ages 16 to 20 are most often killed in car accidents, said JoAnn Hellman, executive director of the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County. IDPIC hosts DUI prevention panels for underage drinkers island-wide, and Hellman helped organize Thursday’s event.

“I didn’t expect the same mad rush we see at the middle schools, but a few students were curious. Everyone we get to do it will think about their choices,” Hellman said.

Some students were hesitant to try the computer program, such as senior Kathryn Gorman. She didn’t want to ruin her appetite for lunch.

Gorman said the BuzzFree program isn’t an effective deterrent for everyone, but it’s fun to try.

Hellman said she thinks any approach is worth trying.

“You know when you’re a teenager, you’re immortal. We try to find ways to connect with them.”

Oak Harbor High School’s prom is tonight from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Drive safely.

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