GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – Haley Matsinger, a 21-year-old psychology major, has been named HERO of the Year at Stockton University by the John R. Elliott Campaign for Designated Drivers.
HEROES of the Year are college students who have been nominated by fellow students as having made significant contributions toward preventing drunken driving, particularly in the area promoting designated drivers. A panel of faculty, HERO Campaign staffers and students selects the HERO from among the nominees.
The HERO Campaign was established by the parents of Navy Ens. John Elliott, an Egg Harbor Township High School graduate who lost his life to a drunken driver in July 2000. John had graduated two months earlier from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he was named the outstanding Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) of his class.
Matsinger, of North Cape May in New Jersey’s Cape May County, was nominated by fellow students Carl Archurt and Nelson Gonzalez for her work with an event called ‘Lolla No Booza,’ which was held the Thursday before the past Halloween.
‘Lolla No Booza’ is a dance event, with a DJ, that emphasizes alcohol-free fun. The day before Halloween, and Thursdays in general, are traditionally the most problematic days during the college year as far as drunken driving and alcohol-related problems among college students are concerned.
This past fall’s ‘Lolla No Booza’ event raised $11,000 that was distributed as prizes at the dance.
“I also do volunteer work on the campus as a drug and alcohol peer educator,” Matsinger said. “We educate students on drinking safety, with the emphasis on three things: Who to call if you have drunk too much and shouldn’t be driving or just need help; at what level of alcohol consumption will you find yourself in trouble; and how to safely pace your drinking.”
Matsinger said she has also been working with the Stockton Veterans Organization and has promoted the designated driver concept with the military veterans who are members.
The first runner-up for Stockton HERO of the Year was Courtlynn Way, of Camden. Courtlynn, 20, is a sophomore majoring in public health.
Second runner-up was Daniela Puerta, of Egg Harbor Township. Puerta, 18, is a freshman who is majoring in health science, with a concentration in speech pathology.
New Jersey had 146 alcohol-related fatalities in 2013 in which the blood-alcohol content of the driver was .08 or above.
The 146 alcohol-related fatalities of 2013 for New Jersey was 18 fewer than the 164 of 2012, an 11 percent decline.
Annual New Jersey alcohol-related fatalities (.08 or above) went from 185 in 2004 to 146 in 2013, a 21 percent decline over the 10-year period.
Nationally, there were 10,076 fatalities in 2013 in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher; this was 31 percent of total national traffic fatalities for the year.
Haley Matsinger poses with a sample of her new HERO Campaign billboard
alongside Bill and Muriel Elliott.