RFH Mental Health Awareness Assembly
December 13th, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — May 28, 2013
Rumson — Spring is officially prom season, during which the halls of Rumson-Fair
Haven Regional High School are usually abuzz with students’ plans for the Junior and
Senior formals. On a recent morning in May, however, the hallways took on a more
reflective air as students absorbed what they had just learned at a school assembly and
discussed its implications in hushed tones.
On May 20, the 11th and 12th grade students attended a Mental Health Awareness
Assembly in the RFH auditorium. There they listened intently as a 28-year-old man told
them about the events that unfolded four years ago when he set out to buy toothpaste
at his local drugstore.
The young man in question, Gabe Hurley, was a gifted guitarist who had recently
graduated from college and landed a high-paying job when his life changed forever on
June 18, 2009.
At the same time as Hurley headed down Oak Tree Road in Edison at 11:20 p.m., a
17-year old was putting his newly minted driving skills to the test by displaying reckless
behavior. The young driver soon lost control of his car and swerved into the opposite
lane, hitting Hurley’s car head-on. The impact was so severe that it dislodged the
air compressor from under the hood of the teen’s car, sending it through Hurley’s
windshield. Hurley was left clinging to life, having suffered severe facial and head
He was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center
in New Brunswick, where he spent the next two months before enduring over twelve
reconstructive surgeries. He lost both eyes as a result of the horrific crash.
In 2011, the Public Relations Staff at Robert Wood Johnson wrote an article about
Hurley’s determination to keep a positive attitude in the aftermath of the life-changing
incident. This article was the springboard to his current vocation as a speaker, in which
he is getting his message and story out to as many teenagers as possible.
In addition to reminding teens to make safe decisions when behind the wheel of a car,
Hurley has the goal of providing perspective and teaching young adults not to take the
simple things in life for granted.
“It is important to point out that even though I never considered myself to be invincible,
I still never expected to become another statistic or headline,” Hurley said. “I think
many people lose sight of the fact that while can’t control everything in our lives, we can
control how we operate a car.”
RFH Student Assistance Counselor Dr. Suzanne Fico felt strongly about getting
Hurley’s message about what he calls “the awesome responsibility of driving” through to
“Gabe’s presentation was very thought-provoking, inspiring, and well-received by our
juniors and seniors,” said Fico. “Hearing first-hand from a young person who was the
victim of a tragic, senseless automobile accident truly made an impact on our students
and will help them to make healthy decisions in the future.”
In addition to lecturing, Hurley performs with his band “The New Black” and hopes
to return to work in his field. His future plans also include establishing a non-profit
organization that would inspire teens to overcome obstacles.
Prior to Hurley’s presentation, the RFH juniors and seniors viewed a video entitled
Every Fifteen Minutes: Castro Valley High School. The title of the video, which
is also the name of the California high school’s anti-alcohol program, is based on the
often-quoted statistic that every fifteen minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related car
Produced by students at the high school located in Alameda County, it tells the story
of a group of teenagers who drink alcohol and then make the ill-fated decision to get
behind the wheel. An alcohol-fueled crash and funeral are simulated in the video, which
earned a 2011 Emmy Award for Excellence in Informational Programming.
Funding for the assembly was provided by the Rumson and Fair Haven
Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, which was established
in January 2013.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT –
Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations
email@example.com or 908-347-885