As the 23-month anniversary of a tragic accident that claimed the lives of four high school students comes and passes, their families and parents continue to fight to decrease the odds of similar tragedies.
In celebration of the life of Brandon Sorrell, a 17-year-old high school student who died in the car accident with three other students, the Peru VFW will host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 2 to 9 p.m.
The fundraiser will have not just spaghetti but have snacks and beverages during the festivities. There will be silent auctions and other prizes. Everyone who brings a non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food pantry automatically gets entered into a mystery prize drawing.
“I can’t tell you what the prizes are, but we have everything from $50 gift certificates, dinner for two and so much more,” said Christol Mastic, mother of Sorrell.
Other prizes will include a spa basket, Adirondack chair, a tree of scratch-off tickets, and a gift certificate wreath.
“The gift certificate wreath is fantastic. The girl who won it last year said all of her Christmas shopping was done when she got it,” Mastic said.
All funds raised will go to the Brandon Sorrell Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
“Your life is your children. It becomes all about getting them to the next stage of their lives, and when they are gone, you lose that purpose,” Mastic said. “Now I focus on making sure that another family doesn’t go through this. It’s especially hard in the fall; it was his favorite time of year.”
The Brandon Sorrell Memorial Scholarship Foundation was set up in memory of the Sorrell. He and three other students died on Nov. 15, 2012 — (Rennert) Sorrell, 17, Peru; Samantha Donah, 17, Plattsburgh; Dat T. Ong, 17, Vietnam; and Chu Xiong, 18, China. They were killed as a result of an accident on Peasleeville Road shortly after sunset. Sorrell and Donah were traveling down the road in his car when the car collided with Ong and Xiong, who were walking along the road. All were killed on impact.
A website, The Brandon Sorrell Memorial Scholarship, hosts information about the accident, the scholarship set up in Sorrell’s name, and safety tips for pedestrians and drivers.
“If you look on the website, there is a video called ‘No White at Night’ where it shows runners at night on the road. And as the video continues, you see more and more runners that you couldn’t see from far away,” Mastic said.
At the end of the video it reads, “Drivers moving at just 30 MPH may travel a distance over 500 feet before they are able to properly maneuver their cars in response to obstacles according to the National Safety Council and Walk Alert and National Pedestrian Safety Program.”
“We have focused a lot of our attention to hosting educational meetings with track teams because they are out of the roads and need to be the most vigilant about highway safety, especially since the days are getting shorter people need to remember to wear reflective clothing,” Mastic said.
This scholarship is designed to help those who show a need and a desire to help others whenever possible.
The scholarship is open to students of SUNY Canton, the college Sorrell planned to attend to learn about auto mechanics. Mastic said because her son understood that not everyone was ready for college when they graduated, the scholarship is also available to anyone 18 to 35 from Clinton and Essex counties.
“Last year we didn’t have that many applicants. Some of Brandon’s friends said they just didn’t feel right about it, but we’re hoping this year more people will apply,” Mastic said. “If you look on the website there is so much information and educational videos.”
Safety tips on the website include: Obey all traffic signs and signals, Stop, and look left, right and left again before entering a roadway, Never run into the street; always cross at the crosswalk or corner. When crossing at an intersection, pedestrians should check for vehicles turning the corner. Always walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk facing traffic. Make eye contact with drivers of stopped vehicles to be sure they are aware that you are crossing the street.
The majority of pedestrian deaths occur in dark or twilight conditions and at locations other than intersections, where vehicle speeds may be higher and where drivers do not expect to have to stop.