THS students receive sobering message on distracted driving

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Guy and Terri Allbrook never want another parent to experience what they did on the night of Feb. 23, 2013.

Several hours after their daughter, Nicole, left the house to hang out with friends in downtown Birmingham, the Allbrooks received a knock on the door nobody wants to receive.

“We found out from a knock on the door that our daughter was dead,” Guy Allbrook told several hundred Thompson High School students during an April 7 presentation one day before the school’s prom.

As the Allbrooks came to learn, their daughter, an Oak Mountain High School graduate, had lost her car keys while in downtown Birmingham, and accepted a ride from a friend who had been drinking.

On the way home, the vehicle Nicole Allbrook was in left the roadway and struck a tree, killing her instantly. The driver, who was twice the legal blood-alcohol content to drive, was not injured, and is now in prison.

“Don’t be the guy who kills his girlfriend, don’t be the girl who kills her boyfriend, don’t be the person who kills their best friend and don’t be the person who kills a stranger because you’re drinking and driving,” Guy Allbrook said. “Do not drink and drive, and do not get in the car with someone who has been drinking.

“Even if it’s a last resort, call your parents to come get you. They may scold you a little bit, but they’ll get over it,” Guy Allbrook added. “If you don’t come home, they’ll never get over it.”

The Allbrooks’ message came at the end of a school assembly intended to demonstrate the dangers of driving while intoxicated or distracted.

At the beginning of the event, Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Lara Alvis and local attorneys Randy Horton and Dan Alexander conducted a mock trial to showcase the scenarios students would face if they were to cause a death while driving distracted or intoxicated.

In the skit, a student named “Sam Senior” left a party to drive to a store to purchase food at the request of his girlfriend. While driving intoxicated, Sam caused a fatal crash, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being found guilty of murder. Sam’s girlfriend was sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of probation as an accessory to murder.

“Everything can change in one second,” Alvis said. “All the time, I see people come into my courtroom who are so young who make just one bad decision.

“I can’t give them any special treatment,” Alvis said. “You will be tried as an adult, and if you are found guilty, you will go to adult prison.”

For the school’s leadership, the event was the perfect opportunity to drive home an issue many schools face during prom season.

“This is no joke,” said THS Assistant Principal Drew Warman. “You’ve got to be conscientious, you’ve got to be mature enough to make the right decisions. “I want to see all of you here on Monday happy and healthy.”