Source: Sherman Publications

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Lake Orion Schools and Oakland County Sheriff's Department urge teens to drive safely

May 01, 2013

By Dan Shriner

Review Editor

With the Lake Orion High School prom this week and the upcoming graduation season only a month away, Lake Orion School officials and the Oakland County Sheriff's Department are urging teens not to drink or text while driving.

In order to put some emphasis on their pleas, the sheriff's department has placed a strong visual reminder a demolished pickup truck -- outside of the front entrance to Lake Orion High School.

"We want students to understand the need to be careful," said Chris Bell, principal at Lake Orion High School.

Lt. Dan Toth, commander of the Orion substation of the sheriff's department, said he hopes the truck serves as a grim reminder to students to be careful and not to engage in drinking or distracted driving, such as texting.

On Monday, as school let out for the day, many students looked at the vehicle and commented that the driver must have been killed. The somber looks on their faces told the story.

In fact, the 24-year-old Orion Township man was not killed but he is on a very long road to recovery.

Sheriff's Department officials said the accident is believed to have occurred when the driver became distracted and said he may have been texting. He was not drinking and did not have any drugs in his system, police said.

The driver rear-ended the back of a flat-bed trailer attached to a semi-truck that was stopped on Brown Road. Police said it was not clear how fast the driver was going but he did not appear to hit his brakes before the crash.

The driver, Robin Simonelli, said he does not remember any details of the accident.

"I don't remember anything," he said. "I don't know how it happened. I woke up in the hospital. Several of my friends who saw the truck said they don't know how I survived."

Simonelli's left leg was nearly completely amputated in the accident and doctors initially did not believe it could be saved. His leg was re-attached though and Simonelli has been undergoing physical therapy.

He said more surgeries are planned on his leg and he isn't sure how well he will ever walk again.

"The recovery has been very difficult," Simonelli said. "I hope that placing my truck there helps someone to be more careful."