Miami Drama Students Act on Drunk Driving - NBC 6 South Florida

Miami Drama Students Act on Drunk Driving

Helen Witty's memory inspires students a decade later to create PSAs



    Helen Witty PSA

    A group of South Florida students have been inspired to deliver a powerful message to their classmates, creating PSAs in the memory of Helen Witty who was killed by a drunk driver a decade ago. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011)

    Helen Marie Witty was a 16-year-old drama student whose dreams were dashed when an 18-year-old, driving drunk and high, hit and crushed her against a tree while she was rollerblading near her Pinecrest home.

    The death rocked the entire community and now, a full decade later, students at the school Witty would've graduated from, students who never met her, are making sure her legacy lives on.

    Elizabeth Silverio's theater class at Palmetto High School has produced a series of public service announcements -- provocative ones -- warning teens about the dangers of driving drunk.

    The PSAs have been running on the school's morning announcements.

    "I've seen people in awe, in shock," said Palmetto High's Thespian President, Krysta Garcia. "I've even seen people turn their faces away. But for the most part, people are just proud and happy to see someone standing up."

    Silverio and Helen were the same age and they knew each other through theater. That's why Helen's picture hangs on her classroom wall. But as the years go by, Silverio heard more and more students asking, "What does this have to do with me?"

    "That's when I realized we have to make this not only about Helen's memory," Silverio explained, "But about getting the message out to kids."

    About a mile away from Palmetto High School, at the house Helen Marie grew up in, her mother says she's finally able to think about her daugther without pain. And the drama students at Palmetto are a big reason why.

    "It's wonderful," said Helen's mom, who's name is also Helen. "I don't think it's so much about Helen Marie anymore, she's been honored so wonderfully...this community has kept us going as a family. Now I think they've taken it farther. There's too many of us dying and we're gonna make a change."

    The Palmetto theater students are working on more PSAs, and they're hoping to eventually have them circulated on a bigger platform.

    They're also busy planning the Walk for Witty, a walk that raises awareness for drunk driving and money for theater scholarships. The walk is on January 29th and starts at Palmetto's athletic field at 9 a.m. Registration is at 8 a.m.


    Follow Adam Kuperstein on Twitter at @akuperstein.