SLCH’s Kathleen Sheehan One of Program’s Presenters at Orange County Stop DWI,Traffic Safety Forum

SLCH’s Kathleen Sheehan One of Program’s Presenters at Orange County Stop DWI,Traffic Safety Forum


Cornwall, NY – The Orange County Stop DWI/Traffic Safety Program, in conjunction with the Cornwall School District, held one of its many "Not One More …" safe driving forums Tuesday night at Cornwall High School. The program featured a variety of presentations about the dangers of driving while intoxicated and distracted driving, including remarks from St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital's Kathleen Sheehan, the hospital's Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Manager.

The guest speakers included John Jones who oversees the program, Chief Todd Hazard of the Town of Cornwall Police Department, Sheehan, Kevin Quigley, Town of Cornwall Supervisor and former County Coroner, and Brian Strommer, a parent who lost his 22-year-old son in an automobile crash. Each presenter gave the parents and students in attendance their perspective on their experiences dealing with fatal collisions.

Sheehan has been a part of the program for the last six years. A mother of two, she became involved after two teens were killed in her hometown of Wallkill. Sheehan reached out to the school's principal and offered her services and expertise as an emergency room nurse.

Sheehan, a member of the SLCH staff for 26 years, including 18 in the Emergency Department, spoke to the group about the process of preparing the trauma room and procedures when a car crash patient is brought to the hospital. She described speaking to the parents of teenagers and having them witness the team of doctors and nurses attempt to save their child's life, as well as having to tell a parent their child did not survive a car crash.

Other topics included safe driving tips from the police department and the process and difficulty in identifying victims of traumatic injuries suffered in car crashes. Strommer was the final speaker, detailing his son's death in September 2010. He addressed the crowd on how his son's death could have been prevented as well as how his family has handled the aftermath.

"We each have a different message, but it's all impactful," Sheehan said. "You can give kids all the statistics in the world, but until you put a picture in their mind, sometimes they don't listen. There is no real way to measure success with something like this, but if we can impress upon young people and parents the need to come up with a plan to keep them safe and it saves one life, then it's worth it."

The program was started in 2007 by the county, various school administrators and The Times Herald-Record newspaper after a number of fatal automobile crashes involving Orange County teenagers. The first event was held in Wallkill in 2007 and has since spread to nearly every school district in the county.

Tuesday's event in Cornwall was part of the school's requirement for rising seniors to obtain their on-campus parking pass for the 2014-15 school year. In addition to the student, at least one parent must also have attended. Jones and Sheehan both believe the effectiveness of the program is at its peak when both teenagers and parents are involved.

"They (parents) say it's just wonderful, and it really makes a big impression," Sheehan said. "The first year I came, it was a bunch of kids texting and not paying attention. I told the principal that if we're going to make an impact, we need to have the parents come."

While the topic of driving while intoxicated remains a big part of the presentation, recently the program has been expanded to discuss the dangers of texting while driving. Jones, a 20-year veteran of the New Windsor Police Department, started the evening by holding up a cell phone and declaring it, "the No. 1 killer of our children between 16 and 24."

Nearly every presenter stressed the need for communication between teenage drivers and their parents.

Sheehan will also be a part of the panel addressing students at Washingtonville High School on May 28.

St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) is a not-for-profit community hospital with campuses in Newburgh and Cornwall, NY. The hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the Hudson Valley and aspires to excellence in the delivery of compassionate and comprehensive health care services. SLCH offers comprehensive cardiac, stroke, cancer and orthopedic services and a full range of other clinical offerings. For more information, go to or