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DeWitt: Driving exhibit stirs emotions

"I'm sorry" are words that carry weight. A high school student typed them into a laptop computer set up for students to give feedback at the Gone4ever exhibit -- a display designed to educate teenagers and bring awareness to the community on the consequences of drunk and reckless driving. The portable presentation toured 38 area high schools for one-week visits during the 2006/07 school year. Now it's set up at Shoppingtown Mall through Jan. 7.

"The public really takes [the display] to heart," said Al Lipsy, senior manager for Macerich.

The "S"-shaped billboard has captured the attention of shoppers since it debuted at the mall in mid-December. Familiar faces line the tall walls -- all local crash victims. Personal memoirs breathe life into the persons now gone. A video details news accounts of the crashes, criminal proceedings and reactions from family and friends.

"Anyone who has kids, anyone who has ever lost someone in an accident can look at this and take it to heart the important message that it delivers to the public," Lipsy said. "The intent is to try to prevent more and more horrendous accidents from occurring."

Town of DeWitt Police Chief Eugene Conway initiated the Gone4ever project in 2005 with the help of a committee comprised of concerned citizens. Its mission? To spread the word on the dangers of drunk and reckless driving, and the "forever" effects the consequences can have on families and friends.

"I take every opportunity to make people aware that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 24," Conway said. "That means that more people in that age category die from being in a vehicle crash than by any other means of death. That should be a statement that concerns everyone."

The victims portrayed

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