BRENDA BUCHANON News Editor
is prom night for students in Johnston and Sampson County schools.
It can be one of the best times of a high school student's life.
However, with the number teens killed in car wrecks in the area,
it is also a time to think about safety.
a safe teen driving event was held at South Johnston High School,
led by Princeton High School senior Summer Capps. Summer wanted
to bring a message to her fellow teens about what happens when
fast driving and alcohol are combined.
impact of that combination hit home during a presentation by
Peggy Bennett and her permanently disabled 25-year-old son,
Josh Bennett, both of Matthews.
want to save your lives," Josh told the juniors and seniors.
Jan. 25, 2001, at 2:40 a.m. Mrs. Bennett received a call from
Carolinas Medical Center - a call she said no parent wants to
receive. Her knees buckled as she listened to the caller. Her
son had been in a car accident and was in ICU. She and her husband
Nick were told to come to the hospital without any explanation.
said her son only had a minor cut on his forehead when she saw
him, but there was more damage inside. Josh's brain had been
sheared. His brain injury was so bad, it moved around both lobes
of his brain leaving him permanently disabled. Mrs. Bennett
said the doctors eventually told them to place Josh in a skilled
nursing facility because there was no rehabilitation that would
help him. The parents wouldn't do that and took him home after
106 days in the hospital.
took five months before Josh made any movement - he scratched
his chest. Later he picked up a hat and put it on. After seven
months of recovery, he spoke his first words.
by little, he learned to walk, dress himself and feed himself.
Little by little he came back," Mrs. Bennett said.
a backdrop behind her of a mangled mess that looked little like
a car, Mrs. Bennett related her story about Josh and what can
happen when teenagers drink and drive. Josh ran into a bridge
abutment at approximately 70 mph after partying with friends.
He had a blood alcohol level of .22, nearly three times the
legal limit, his mom said. The car caught on fire and three
people pulled him out. His and his family's lives were forever
Bennett said as a result of Josh's bad decision, she wants to
tell his story to as many young people as she can. She said
this is what Josh wants to do and she helps him.
are not invincible," Mrs. Bennett said.
moves around with a walker. He can talk, but his speech is slow
and you must listen intently to understand what he says.
had to learn how to eat, walk, talk," Josh said.
are fortunate," Mrs. Bennett said, "we got a chance to keep
through all of this Josh maintains his sense of humor. His mother
said he was a happy-go-lucky teenager, with lots of friends
and everybody loved him.
were sniffs and tears falling from some of the students' eyes
as they looked at Josh and listened to Mrs. Bennett.
the end of the program, Josh said, "That's right, I want to
save everybody. I want to save them, save them all."
stood holding onto his walker, waiting for the students as they
left the auditorium. A few students spoke to him, one shook
his hand, but most walked out the door without a sound.
almost want the impact of them (the students) not saying anything
to Josh after the presentation. Maybe it jarred them, made them
uncomfortable," Mrs. Bennett said.
Principal Barry Honeycutt said at South Johnston they have been
fortunate. "But it still has an impact on us. Anytime you can
have a program where students get to see what can happen, it
helps. We have to continue to say it," he said.