BEECHWORTH PRISONERS: 'Don’t make same mistakes'

Sen-Constable James Donovan at the Wodonga police station cells where young drivers could find themselves after drinking or texting behind the wheel. Picture: Kylie Esler

Sen-Constable James Donovan at the Wodonga police station cells where young drivers could find themselves after drinking or texting behind the wheel. Picture: Kylie Esler

A man who killed his mate while drink-driving as a 21-year-old is one of two prisoners who will speak at a forum aimed at teaching youth the consequences of bad decisions.

It is the first time prisoners serving time will be involved in the Cool Heads education program, which includes personal accounts to humanise the effects of fatalities and injuries resulting from road accidents.

The man, now 26, is serving a six-year sentence for culpable driving at the Beechworth Correctional Centre.

He had also been speeding.

A second speaker, also 26, has a similar story.

He is serving 6½ years at the Beechworth centre for killing his passenger after a crash that occurred while he was drunk and driving.

Wodonga police crime prevention officer Sen-Constable James Donovan said the pair were typical young men with their whole lives ahead of them when they made their fateful decisions.

“A split-second or bad decision can have a long-term effect,” he said,

“It’s something you can’t take back.

“We want young people to realise it can happen to them.”

Sen-Constable Donovan said the consequences included serious injuries, jail and death.

He said the forum aimed to emphasise the devastating impact road deaths had on loved ones.

Vicki Richardson, who launched the Brooke Richardson Dont-txt-n-drive Foundation in honour of her daughter, is speaking at the event.

Brooke crashed and died while texting and driving in December 2012. She was 20.

Ms Richardson said she planned to tell the audience about the days that followed her daughter’s death without pulling any punches, including viewing Brooke’s body and organising her funeral.

“It’s very confronting,” she said.

“I’ve had boys who have just grabbed me and shaken my hand and girls who have hugged me.

“The people that I’ve spoken to, I don’t think that they would ever do it after hearing my story.”

Ms Richardson said she would explain how people could text and drive a thousand times and get away with it, but it took only one time for something to go wrong.

The program is targeted at learner and probationary drivers and parents, who are encouraged to attend to continue pushing the message at home.

It will be held on Wednesday from 7pm at the main lecture theatre at La Trobe University in Wodonga.

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