BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — Choices have consequences, and a poor choice can affect everyone.
That’s just one of the messages Burrillville students and families heard during a panel Wednesday night about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.
“Life as you know it can change in a moment,” said Cathy Andreozzi, one of the speakers on the panel. “As kids start to come back to school and they get involved in all of their activities, we just wanted to remind them the choices that they make can take them out of the game forever.”
Andreozzi founded the Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation in honor of her daughter, whose life was forever altered by an impaired driver years ago.
“None of us live in a silo,” Andreozzi said. “What we do has a ripple effect that pulls other people into it.”
The event was mandatory for student athletes, according to Burrillville Athletic Director John Abbate.
“I think they really, really listened,” Abbate told 12 News. “I remember when we did this last year, several weeks after it happened, kids were still talking about it in the halls.”
The student athletes also listened to Mark Dennison, whose son Matthew, a West Warwick hockey player, was killed by an alleged drunk driver last year.
“I see these students and they’re in the same stage of their life as Matthew was,” Dennison said.
The conversation was also focused on encouraging students and their families to take action to prevent a potential tragedy.
“If you can start something young, you can carry that throughout your life,” Dennison said. “That’s the message we are trying to get out now to these students, and hopefully they’ll live a life on the right side of this issue.”
Now through Sept. 4, Rhode Island State Police and other law enforcement agencies across the state will be stepping up their patrols, with the goal of identifying and arresting impaired drivers.