Surrounded by cars with shattered windows, crushed doors and mangled front ends, Todd Henrie reminisced about the accident that left him paralyzed for life.
"I don't remember anything about the accident, other than I was on my way home from a date," he said Monday.Henrie said both he and his date had been drinking hard liquor. After he dropped her off, he started home - that's all he remembers. The rest of the story is what he has been told by police officers. Apparently, he took a 25-mph corner going more than 100 mph and hit a telephone pole.
"I was thrown from the car. I wasn't wearing a seat belt, that's why I was thrown from the car and I severed my spinal cord," he said. "The accident changed everything I do in life. I appreciate what I have left. I never thought about not being able to walk or do things like stretching my toes."
Its been eight years since Henrie almost lost his life. But he isn't letting the accident that shattered his spine and left him confined to a wheelchair ruin his life; rather, he's trying to prevent other people from experiencing the same pain
"Kids don't realize (alcohol-related accidents) can happen to them. They're not immune to it, their friends aren't immune to it," Henrie said during a news conference for a new anti-drunken driving campaign.
Henrie was the key speaker at the Utah Highway Safety Office's conference, which kicked off its new public service campaign "Wasted Drivers Waste Their Friends."
The campaign is aimed at junior and high school students and is intended to reveal the dangers and hazards of drunken driving. The conference was held at the Utah Wrecking Co. to illustrate the results of driving drunk.
Henrie said the campaign's goal is teaching junior and high school students that alcohol-related accidents are not just something you see on television. The campaign, created by Gillham Advertising, includes numerous radio and television ads about the consequences about driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
John Dome, program specialist for Utah Highway Safety, hopes the campaign will have a positive effect on the habits of teenagers and will lower Utah's drunken-driving rate.
"Youths are overly involved in highway fatalities - more than you would guess from the number of licensed drivers in that age group," he said.
According to the Department of Public Safety, 27.6 percent of Utah traffic fatalities in 1987 were alcohol related, and drivers under the age of 25 were responsible for 38 percent of all DUI fatalities.
"Hopefully, my little boy will learn from my mistakes," Henrie said.