Press-Republican

Friday

November 9, 2012

Pedestrian-safety effort follows tragedy

PERU — Eye-popping green shirts help keep local students at an increasing number of local schools safer when they run along North Country roads.

Provided so far to Peru Central and Beekmantown Central by the Brandon Sorrell Memorial Scholarship Foundation, almost 190 shirts have been handed out to the kids by Brandon’s mother, Christol Mastic.

“We are reaching out to Saranac (Central)” next, she said.

She has made it a mission of her son’s foundation to teach pedestrian safety.

Brandon, 17, was one of four students who died on Nov. 15, 2011, when his car struck two pedestrians walking on Peasleeville Road in Peru.

Dat. T. Ong, 17, of Vietnam and Chu “Allen” Xiong, 18, of China were wearing dark, non-reflecting clothes as they walked with their backs to traffic as darkness fell that afternoon, police determined. The Seton Catholic Central international students died, as did Brandon’s girlfriend, Samantha Donah, 17, of Beekmantown, who was riding with him.

People aren’t very aware about pedestrian safety, Mastic learned in the months that followed the tragedy.

Her goal is to provide the shirts and pedestrian-safety information to as many schools as possible. They would also like to hand out reflective belts that students can wear to make themselves even more visible, if money can be raised for that purpose.

“Drivers can see (the reflection) up to 1,200 feet away,” Mastic said. “It’s like seeing the eyes of a deer or something.

“That’s the next thing we want to get, so next fall we can start with those and the shirt.”

ALWAYS SMILED

Saturday’s Brandon Sorrell Memorial Foundation Scholarship Dinner will help fund the overall effort.

Brandon’s generosity of spirit lives on in that event — in the family and friends who volunteer to organize it, in those who have donated funds and prizes for the silent auction planned for that evening. 

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