Lafourche students cautioned on the ‘Domino Effect’

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Greg Eymard said he had a queasy, uneasy feeling in his stomach all day on April 13, 2002.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” the south Lafourche native said Thursday morning while addressing South Lafourche High School students. “I could just feel it.”

His wife Linda felt it, as well. When her husband shared his uneasiness to her, the wife agreed, adding that she had an ominous feeling since she woke up that morning.

As day faded to night, the reason for those feeling became apparent, with the ringing of a telephone, and the call every parent dreads.

Eymard’s daughter-in-law Tami. told him that her husband – Eynard’s only child, Jacob – had been killed in a wreck.

It was later discovered that the crash was the result of an alcohol-impaired driver, who spent 10 years in prison for his crime.

Eymard shared his pain as part of a program presented at schools by Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant. Called “The Domino Effect,” the program aims to use real-life stories like Eynard’s to caution senior students about bad decisions and the consequences that can accompany them. The program got its name because the consequences extend far beyond the person who made the bad choice immediately, one by one, like a falling stack of dominoes.

As tears welled in the eyes of some students, Eymard continued sharing his story Thursday morning in the South Lafourche auditorium, recounting his daughter-in-law’s call.

“She was screaming,” Eymard said. “All I could hear her saying was, ‘He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead!’”

The justice system and criminal proceedings, Eynard said, did little to cure the pain of losing a son, a husband and a father of two – taken from the world after just 28 years of living.

“It was my family’s worst nightmare,” the father said, shaking away tears. “He got his time, but we got a life sentence. Our son isn’t coming back. We will never get to make memories with him again on this earth.”

Preventing future nightmares for other families is the reason Morvant says he presents the program, and why Eymard agreed to participate.

Such a nightmare is one both the Eymard family and Lafourche District Attorney want Cam Morvant want to prevent from happening again. The idea, Morvanst said, is to reach out to the next generation for their help fixing the problem.

Most of the instruction centered around the dangers behind both texting and driving and drinking and driving – problems that Morvant said Lafourche Parish is committed to curbing.

The District Attorney recited statistics and showed the students videos that hammered home his overlying message: any one poor choice can impact lives forever.

“It’s hard because most of the people who get in a car, drive drunk and then kill somebody – they aren’t bad people,” Morvant told students Thursdsay. “A lot of them have families. A lot of them have good jobs. They are good people – people who just make an incredibly bad choice, which ends up being a part of the rest of their lives … It doesn’t just affect you. It affects your family. It affects the families of others. It affects your job. It affects your career and everything around you.”

After showing videos highlighting the dangers surrounding drunk driving, Morvant went over a brief PowerPoint presentation that displayed to the students what happens when someone is charged with DWI. The district attorney illustrated how being arrested and charged puts a stigma on a person’s record that makes it difficult to get scholarships – if one is able to get admission into a university at all.

Morvant then talked about how being arrested for DWI makes life difficult for a blue-collar worker. He shared the story of a boat captain who drove drunk, got arrested and lost his captain’s license. For several years, the man had to work as a deckhand at a significant cut in pay while waiting for the arrest to get off his record.

“That DWI affected his life for a very long time,” Morvant said.

But nothing opened the students’ eyes more, they later said, than Eymard’s first-hand testimony. Eymard told the students to always think twice about their actions and to never assume that they are immune to bad things and tragedy. He described his son as a fun-loving man who was a pleasure for everyone to be around, and related his daughters, although older, don’t understand why they were cheated out of the opportunity to have a father.

“What daughter wouldn’t want or deserve to get walked down the aisle someday by their father?” Eymard asked. “My grandchildren look at me and they ask me, ‘Am I like my dad?’ or ‘Do you think he would be proud of me?’”

And it was all because of a choice – a single decision that knocked one domino down. Then another, then another and then another until it was spiraled out of control.

By the time it was done, a man was killed, a wife was widowed, two kids were fatherless and a man was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

All because of one bad choice – a decision to put a key in an ignition while under the influence of alcohol.

Morvant gave the children keychains shaped like a domino – he asked they put them on their key rings to serve as a reminder of what can happen.

“You have the rest of your lives ahead of you,” Morvant said. “Put your best feet forward and remember the dominos. I’m not here preaching to you. I care about you. I want you all to do great things.”

Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant talks to South Lafourche High School students during his ‘Domino Effect’ presentation. The DA cautioned students about the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as texting and driving in his presentation.