Paraplegic man warns B.C. teens about drinking and driving
More than 1,100 youths are injured in Lower Mainland crashes each year from April to June
A Surrey man who killed his best friend and ended up in a wheechair in a drunk driving accident 13 years ago is visiting high schools across the province hoping to discourage teens from speeding, drinking and driving.
"I wasn't really thinking this would be a crossroads in life," Kevin Brooks recalled on Wednesday, speaking in front of students at Garibaldi Secondary in Maple Ridge.
"We're partying it up, we're having fun. All we're thinking is, 'the party is more fun than going home.'"
"Instantly your world is just shattered," Brooks said.
Brooks, then 21 years old, was left a paraplegic.
"My mom says ‘No Kev, it’s why you can’t move your legs.’ I try to move them, they won’t go. I’m freaking out, I’m panicking and they won’t go. They won’t move."
RCMP officers were also on hand at the school assembly to walk teens through sobriety tests.
According to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 25 percent of speeding drivers and 19 percent of impaired drivers in B.C. who were involved in crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities were between the ages of 16 and 21.
"I'm the demographic. I'm the young guy that did stupid things, who drives fast, who parties hard," Brooks said.
Over the next three months, ICBC road safety speakers and some with first-hand experience, like Brooks, will visit other schools across B.C.
"Hopefully I can get through to people 'like me' because we'll be talking on the same level," Brooks said.
ICBC says typicall more than 1,100 youths are injured and around three are killed in crashes around the Lower Mainland each year between April and June — around the same time many young people are celebrating the end of the school year.
On average, 44 youth between 16 and 21 years old are killed and 7,300 are injured in crashes every year in British Columbia, ICBC says.
With files from the CBC's Meera Bains