JEFFERSON - The horrific consequences of drinking and driving are live and on stage for Jackson County high school students this week.
Sheriff Janis Mangum spearheaded the effort to bring in two Georgia men, both with very different stories, both forever impacted by drinking and driving. Their "Enduring Regret" message gives the real life accounts of each man.
Chris Sandy spent eight and a half years in prison for a DUI crash he caused when he was 22. That wreck killed a married couple. He told students about the horrors his choice caused for the victims' family and his own.
The students were completely silent during the presentation and seemed impacted when they left the Jackson County Comprehensive High School auditorium Tuesday.
"Wow, it's amazing. It's eye-opening. It's unbelievable, all of the stories."
"I feel like before I was, 'it could never happen to me,' but now I feel like it definitely could."
Sandy didn't mince words about what his actions did to the victims' family and his own. He was humble and honest about his time in prison and the carnage his choice created.
"We want to be as transparent with our audience as we can. We want to share those raw emotions of what you really go through day to day because of a choice we made when we were young adults," Sandy said.
Sandy appeared with his best friend and brother-in-law Eric Krug. Krug was a college baseball player at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with hopes of a degree and career in the major league.
He made a choice on his 21 birthday that would alter the course of his life forever.
Krug was left with a severe brain injury, unable to speak with his own voice as the result of riding with someone who had been drinking. Krug uses an iPad and help device to speak.
"Simple things like talking and walking are a struggle every day in my life. I have life-long injuries because I got in a car with a drunk driver," Krug said.
The two travel with Shane Godfrey of Xstreme Videos speaking to live audiences, following a dramatic video presentation that details their accounts.
While they didn't elaborate on how it started, Sandy got to know Krug as Krug's mother would bring him to visit Sandy in prison. As they spread the message, the two have become best friends and Sandy is married to Krug's sister.
Sandy said Krug is making progress using a walker. He's also working on learning to talk again, able to say, "hey," to the students.
Sandy also talked about the consequences he faces even out of prison. He's on parole until next Spring and then begins a lengthy probation sentence. As a 36 year old man, he told students his mother had to drive him to Wednesday's engagements because he's not allowed behind the wheel.
He'll forever live with a felony record, but Sandy wasn't asking for pity. While behind bars he began exploring ways to help other young people avoid the horror of mistakes like his.
Mangum said she met Godfrey at training last winter after she took office and began brainstorming ways to bring the presentation to students in her county. The result was a series of assemblies this week at the county's high schools.
"You could hear a pin drop at every one of them. No rowdiness, no disrespect, it's been wonderful," Mangum said.
The presentations were paid for using seized drug money, according to Mangum.