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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Programs look to combat drunk driving

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The Northgate district, adjacent to the Texas A&M campus, houses a street of bars and other restaurants.

On Sept. 15, 2019, Texas A&M student Carlynn Beatty was walking on Texas Avenue when she was hit by 17-year-old Pedro Puga, who was driving under the influence. Beatty was rushed to St. Joseph Regional Health Hospital and stabilized by ER surgeons before being transported to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston for surgery, where she died a week later.

Family, friends and Aggies mourned her death, describing Beatty as an optimistic friend and a dedicated student who could find joy in every moment. 

Shortly after the accident, Puga was arrested after fleeing the scene and evading arrest. Police determined Puga had a blood alcohol level of .032 at the time he was driving his vehicle, according to a January 2023 KBTX article. In February 2022, Puga was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, accident involving death charges and evading arrest.

College Station Officer Jason Arnold said CSPD makes around 300 DWI arrests annually.

“When it comes to College Station, arrests are typically made anytime between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.,” Arnold said. “The higher percentage of DWI arrests would be in the areas leading away from the Northgate area or anywhere we have our local bars.

Of full-time college students ages 18 to 22, almost half — 49% — reported drinking alcohol, and nearly one-third — 28.9% — reported binge drinking in the past month, according to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 

Around 1,519 college students ages 18 to 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, according to the most recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“There’s a lot of options for anyone that is going to drink to find an alternate ride instead of making that poor decision of getting behind the wheel,” Arnold said, “There’s Uber, Lyft, rides from friends, or even taxis.”

Water management and hydrological science graduate student Chloe Rodriguez serves as the vice chair of CARPOOL, a free resource offered to anyone in Bryan-College Station  to help prevent drunk driving tragedies. 

“You don’t even have to be a student to call CARPOOL,” Rodriguez explained. “If you’re a resident in the BCS area and your destination is in the BCS area, we will have someone that can take you home.”

The student-run organization provides free rides home every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the spring and fall semesters. As of April 6, CARPOOL has given 296,521 free rides to students, according to its website.

Biology senior William “Billy” Serralta currently serves as the co-chair of CARPOOL. 

“I’ve given rides to people who are just picking up groceries or going back home from a friend’s house,” Serralta said. “But then we also have plenty of calls coming from Northgate or house parties.” 

Anyone in the area needing a free and safe ride home with no questions asked can request a  CARPOOL ride with the organization’s phone number on the back of A&M student ID cards and in the CARPOOL Instagram bio @tamucarpool. 

Watch UR BAC is a free educational resource open to Texas community groups, faith-based organizations, schools and businesses provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The mission is to teach Texans about the dangers of alcohol and other drug misuse, such as binge drinking, understanding alcohol poisoning, and the dangers of impaired driving, said Mary Jo Prince, project specialist for both Watch UR BAC and A&M’s Reality Education for Drivers program. 

“Our primary goal is building awareness and educating young drivers and students about risks and making right choices,” Prince said. “When you make the choice to drive impaired — no matter what age you are — you are making a choice to affect lives. It could be your own life or the lives of others you don’t even know.

“Some consequences can cause injuries, some consequences may cause fatalities, and those are the consequences you cannot undo,” Prince said.

At the time of her death, Beatty was an animal science sophomore who aspired to become a vet. To honor her memory, Beatty’s family created Carly’s Way, a nonprofit that continues her dream of helping animals in need. For more information, visit CarlysWay.org

Alexia Serrata is a journalism junior and contributed this article from JOUR 203 Media Writing I to The Battalion.

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