At 19, Chase Doucet was handsome and popular, just out of high school and planning to become an electrician. But on July 19, 2003, Doucet crashed his pickup into an oak tree on his way home from a bar in his town of Gulfport, Miss., and died instantly. Like one-third of the teenage drivers killed that year, he'd been drinking. "I told him many times to call me if he was in a situation like that," says his mother, Cherie Bates, 42, a nurse. "I still don't understand why he didn't."
Mallory Jones has a hunch. "Most kids don't want to call their parents" in that situation, she says. "That's just the truth." A friend of Doucet's devastated by his death, Jones, now 18 and a Gulfport High School senior on track to be valedictorian, channeled her grief into action. She started a service that enlists students as designated drivers for teens who've been drinking, naming it BUSY: Businesses to Save Youth, Partly funded by local businesses, 30 volunteer Gulfport high schoolers have picked up 150 fellow students since last August. Parents are supportive and Principal Joel Myrick calls it a "wonderful program." But critics, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, argue that BUSY tacitly condones underage drinking. "It's illegal—kids should wait," says MADD spokeswoman Misty Moyse.
To Jones—whose parents, Terri, a dentist, and Malcolm, an attorney, are fans of the group—it's a matter of pragmatism. "The majority of high school teens drink," she says. Occasionally, Jones admits, she's one of them, though she probably wouldn't dial up BUSY: "I'd call my parents."
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