Local News

Mother speaks about son's death in drunken driving wreck

Posted March 19, 2007
Updated January 10, 2009

— North Carolina First Lady Mary Easley and the mother of a student killed in an alcohol-related crash on Monday kicked off a statewide campaign to decrease underage drinking.

Operation Drive to Live is designed to raise awareness among teens of the dangers of drinking and driving. The first assembly was held at Wakefield High School, where five students have died in alcohol-related crashes in the past year.

Senior Sadiki Young died in January after the car in which he was riding in went off Wakefield Plantation Drive and tumbled down an embankment.

Young's mother, Rosemarie Newman, got the attention of an auditorium of bored Wakefield High seniors Monday by speaking of her son's death.

"He is now in God's hands. I'll never touch him again with (my) hands. I want to. I can't," Newman said."Was it worth it? What was he thinking?"

Six teenagers and one adult face charges in the accident. Christopher John Palmeri, 18, of High Holly Lane, is charged with manslaughter and drunken driving. Other teens are charged with using fake identification to purchase alcohol and trying to cover-up an underage drinking party after the wreck.

"Do I think alcohol caused my son's death? Do I think alcohol influenced the way these kids behaved afterwards? Damn right I do," Newman said.

After listening to Newman in silence, many students wiped away tears and said they were moved by her presence and her words.

"Everything she said has so much weight because she's going through this and there's so much pain," student Sarah Hilla said.

"It kind of made me think. If I was to have made a bad decision and something had happened to me and to think about my mom being put in that position, it really touched me," student Breanna Freeman said.

Easley and state Highway Patrol troopers delivered a strong message about what alcohol does to students' minds and bodies. The campaign also includes troopers conducting driver safety education classes and enforcing traffic laws at high school campuses across the state.

"There has been so much pain and loss here at Wakefield," Easley said. "It's everybody's business. The solution is everybody's responsibility."


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  • mulvay8888 Mar 20, 2007

    Maybe if schools would put information on the EOG testing that kids have to take, then the kids would learn not to drink and drive. As a parent, I would make sure the kids knew not to drink and drive and they would be well educated to this matter.

  • Amazed Mar 20, 2007

    Umhmm.. this shows that not only hispanics drink and drive...
    and i'm not seeing any racial comments about this one! Or is it because no one knows what race the last name Palmeiri is???...............
    yeah. thought so~

  • vcg3rd Mar 20, 2007

    Futbalfantic, you say: "As a parent you can easyly controll what your kids do. Don't give me the crap that kids will be kids. TAKE YOUR car back, take YOUR cell phone back. 90% of the problem with kids today is EVERYTHING is handed to them."

    Maybe that used to be, but today they just get trak phones. Right after my wife's half-sister was placed with us by her parents because she was drinking she tried to open a CPS case against us. When that failed, she got lawyers to try and emancipate herself. Some kids will not take no, and work the system that will believe anything they say.

  • vcg3rd Mar 20, 2007

    My wife and I recently became the guardians of her 16 y/o half sister. She had developed a pattern of a drinking that was very reckless. Her friends' parents often supplied the drinks and once she left a girl passed out to possible die. She was arrested. When placed with us to get her out of that environment, she got an attorney and is trying to emancipate herself. We contacted the lawyer and provided her with information about the pattern of drinking back to 15, mostly chats her parents found after she was arrested and they had reason to look.
    Our hope was to show that hse shouldn't be emancipated because she would just run right back to that county and drink. The lawyer sat in out home and accused us of "thinking she's a bad person" and "not liking her." Everyone is so upset about the intrusion into her privacy.

  • futbalfantic Mar 20, 2007

    As a teenager and someone who just graduated high school I must say most of everyones views here are squed (sp?). I personaly put 100% of the blame on the childs parents. As a parent you can easyly controll what your kids do. Don't give me the crap that kids will be kids. TAKE YOUR car back, take YOUR cell phone back. 90% of the problem with kids today is EVERYTHING is handed to them. At 16 75% of my friends got BRAND NEW cars and/or 50% got sports cars. A 16 year old has no business to have eather one of these cars and especially a brand new sports car. At my high school there were ~600 students who drove out of those drivers there were atleast 100 major tickets and major accidents. Out of these ALL but a few kept there cars or got a car of the same value. So tell me what lessons were learned?
    Also PAY ATTENTION to your kids they will tell you what they are doing you just need to pay attention.

  • romeopm Mar 19, 2007

    purplepat777 are you kidding me??? then if you want to go there then why didnt the parents of the other kids speak? and the answer is because......IT JUST DONT MATTER!!! how dare you throw the damn race card. this woman just lost a kid and all you can do is talk about the race card? ms. newman you keep your head up and no matter what anyone says your a great inspiration. i could not imagine one of my own and be as brave as you. god bless you ms. newman.

  • jetset Mar 19, 2007

    I would think that Ms. Newman's comments made an impact on the student's today and I hope these thoughts will linger in their minds forever. I work with the public schools and we had a young student that committed suicide. Of course, the students who went to the funeral were very sad and alot of tears were shed. But, when I followed behind some of them on the way back from the funeral, the music was turned way up and they were having such a great time, laughing,etc. Made me think if they really understood his death as final.

  • sabbon Mar 19, 2007

    I was a Wakefield student at the assembly today, and every word Mrs. Newman said had an impact on everyone that heard her. She put lots of things in perspective for us - things that we did not realize before. NOT facts like MRS Easley was giving. I think its almost safe to say that Mrs Newman talking to the class of 2007 has changed the way we think about these situations and alcohol - and if it hasnt, then at least it changed the way I think.

  • groberts14 Mar 19, 2007

    A lot of problems this day and time with teens is that they just don't care. Their attitude is I am 16 or 17 years old and I will do what I want to do and no one can stop me. Also, the parents need to pay more attention to their teens and not just had them money everytime they ask for it, just to get them out of their hair. My daughter is 7 years old and already from seeing her father a drunk, she can't stand it. To all the teens drinking is not cool, it makes you look like a fool. I hope these teens do not end up if rehab.

  • carolinagirl19 Mar 19, 2007

    has anyone ever thought about how much pressure kids are under these days. i sure wouldn't want to grow up in todays world.you have to make straight A's- you have to go to college for at least a B.A. if not your masters. then you'll have 50,000 in student loans. no wonder they drink. we have kids at 18 that give their lives for our country and cant drink a beer.. go figure