Shorecrest students get sobering lesson on impaired driving

Friday, June 3, 2016

Realistic simulation of the aftermath of a crash

Text by Curtis Campbell
Photos by Julie Moss

With prom season and summer just around the corner, Shorecrest High School students and staff held a mock car crash on May 26 to remind the school’s juniors and seniors of the dangers posed by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The aftermath of a simulated car crash caused by an impaired driver was set up in the school’s parking lot to look as realistic as possible. Shoreline police and paramedics responded as if it was real, and student actors demonstrated the consequences of getting behind the wheel while impaired —complete with special effects makeup and fake blood.

A student actor with a Shoreline Police officer

The demonstration began with students watching a video in the gymnasium to set the context for what they would witness in the parking lot. The video depicted two groups of students at a party where alcohol was being consumed — each making very different choices. One group was uncomfortable with the drinking happening at the party and left with a sober driver. The other group stayed and consumed alcohol before deciding to drive to get some food.

With the storyline set, the students exited to the parking lot. The scene that awaited them was stomach churning. Two cars — mangled in heaps of twisted metal — are at a standstill after one apparently drove head on into the side of the other.

It’s eerily quiet, but for the sounds of sirens getting louder as they approach the scene. One actor’s body is halfway through the windshield, lying motionless on the hood and covered in blood, and another lies motionless on the asphalt with serious wounds.

Parents comforting their daughter, who survived the crash
(simulated scene)

Their fate becomes apparent when a paramedic covers both bodies with white sheets. The actor playing the intoxicated driver at fault is given a field sobriety test by a police officer. He fails and is placed under arrest. Meanwhile, the parents of deceased arrive on the scene and cry out in anguish. The moment is so moving in that many in the audience shared in their sorrow with tears in their eyes.

After the demonstration, the students returned to classrooms where they were able to discuss what they had witnessed.

The whole experience was pretty sobering, explained Rachel Semon, a senior who helped coordinate the event. “It made a big impact on the students … even though they knew it wasn’t real, it was overwhelming because they knew it could be real because people die under those same circumstances every day.”

In the simulation, one student died when he went through the windshield

In 2014, the Center for Disease Control reported nearly 10,000 people were killed in alcohol related crashes. This accounted for one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. While data for 2015 hasn’t been released yet, early indications are that the number will be even higher.

Because of statistics like that, it’s important for students to truly understand the life-altering consequences of impaired driving, explained Coquille Knutson, drug and alcohol counselor at Shorecrest. “It’s a great conversation starter … because it’s so shocking, you can’t tune it out.”

In addition to exposing them to the reality of drunk and drugged driving, she notes the work they do year-round to educate and empower students to make wise and healthy decisions. “Even if it just saves one life, it’s all worth it.”

Both Knutson and Semon expressed their gratitude to the Shoreline Police and Fire Departments for their help putting on the event. “It’s a lot of work,” said Semon. From setting up the wrecked cars to doing the special effects makeup, the first responders are a huge part of the event. “We could not have done this without them, we really appreciate how much they care and do for our students,” said Knutson.

Students and parents/guardians were notified in advance of the demonstration and given the opportunity to not participate.


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