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Lewes, Delaware
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March 19, 2004     Cape Gazette
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March 19, 2004

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iz-- Verdict proves consequences Today, I sat in Superior Court and watched the sentencing hear- ing for the brutal murder of a Dover man, Joseph Siemons. This murder is different. Joseph Siemons was killed by a drunk driver. On the night of April 25, 2003, Joe Siemons was on his way home from work, Joey was a good guy who was 21, and liked by all who knew him. He was going to have dinner with his morn. Joe stopped at the light where State Street meets Route 13 in Dover, The light turned green and he pro- ceeded. Joe never saw what hit him. John Christopher was so drunk that he did not respond to the red light. John Christopher chose to get behind the wheel of his car after he had been drinking. But this was not normal, social drinking. So- cial drinking is one or two drinks in an hour. At the scene of the crash, Mr. Christopher had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .273. For a man of his weight, that number equals 15 drinks in an hour. Most people could not walk, let alone-;Orive, with such a high b!0ohol content. The judge oboeS?this and called Christo- nl !:ng ":e :xtreme" and BAC as a factor in the sentence. What is the price that John Christopher has to pay for making such a stupid decision? Not nearly the price that the family of Joe Siemons has to live with. The Siemons have lost a son, a brother anda friend. I saw the faces of the people who loved him. These are the people who will live with the consequenees, not the offender. I saw frieads whr' huggedand cried. I saw a family that stood to- gether and shared about the per- son they have lost, what has been taken away from them never to be returned. Oh, you don't have to worry. John Christopher will be spending the next 10 years with the Depart- ment of Corrections. It will take a 170-lb. man only five. drinks in one hour to reach the legal limit of .10 BAC. A woman weighing 137 pounds can drink three alcoholic beverages. Eating while you drink slows the rate in which the alcohol is ab- sorbed into the blood stream. Sus- tained drinking over a period of time, raises the blood alcohol con- tent more quickly, and holds it longer. If you plan to drink, please choose a designated driver. For more information, please contact Trish Bachman at 302-853-6233 or toll free at 800-630-6233. Trish Bachman Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Delaware chapter Educate teens about drowsy driving Inexperience behind the wheel is certainly one reason for the number of crashes involving teenage drivers. But there is an- other major contributor to the number of crashes involving teens that is often not given the atten- tion it deserves. It is drowsy driv- ing. When inexperience com- bines with fatigue, the results can be deadly. There are campaigns in many areas of the country to delay high school start times because teenage students are falling asleep in their early morning classes. What of- ten isn't reported or discussed is that many of those same students who fall asleep in early classes are driving to school. One can as- sume they are as sleepy behind the wheel as they are behind their desk. Sleep experts recommend an average of 9.25 hours Of sleep each night for adolescents. But their sleep patterns are affected by a phase delay, a natural tendency toward going to sleep and awak- ening later. This often puts teens' biological clocks in conflict with the classroom clocks. In a recent poll by the National Sleep Foun- dation (NSF), three-fourths of parents polled said their teen went to sleep at 11 p.m. or later on schoo ! nights, while a 1998 study found one-quarter of America's teens get less than 6.5 hours of sleep on school nights. It is not surprising that another NSF poll found that daytime sleepiness is more prevalent among teens than younger children. Studies show that sleep-related crashes are !most common among younge r drivers, especially males, They Can occur at any time of day or night, but driving overnight, when our body and brain is pro- grammed for sleep, increases the risk. Graduatedlicensing and drivers education may be part of the solution, but all driver's edu- cation courses should include warnings about driving while drowsy, similar to the warnings about seat belts and drinking and driving. It isn't only our teens who must exhibit responsibility. Their adult role models also have a lot to learn. When was the last time you, the reader, risked driving while feeling sleepy? Trina Clark, RRT Director, Sleep Disorders Center Beebe Medical Center Million Morns urge assault weapon ban Delaware Million Mom March and the overwhelming majority of First State voters urged President Bush and Congress to renew and strengthen the federal ban on mil- itary-style assault weapons. The assault weapons ban is set to ex- pire on Sept. 13 - just six months from now. Though the U.S. Senate recent- ly approved renewing the assault weapons ban as an amendment to Continued on page 28