Mock crash held at West greene to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving

West Greene mock crash demonstrates dangers of alcohol

May 1, 2014
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Sheriff deputies Marcus Simms, left, and Asa Winters, right, and state police trooper Jason Clayton arrest Derrick Courtwright during a mock crash Thursday at West Greene High School. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Center Township firefighters and emergency medical personnel work at one of the cars during a mock crash Thursday at West Greene High School. Zack Frye plays the 8-year-old injured in the crash. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Center Township firefighters remove the door of a car during a mock crash at West Greene High School. Playing the occupants of the car are Zack Frye and Melissa Ullom. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Darianne Medlen played the teenager fatally injured in a mock crash Thursday at West Greene High School. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Emergency medical personnel assist an occupant of one of the cars that was part of a mock crash Thursday at West Greene High School. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
A Lifeflight helicopter lands at the West Greene High School football field during a mock crash Thursday held by the district and Center Township Volunteer Fire Co. Order a Print

ROGERSVILLE – A car with two teenagers who are leaving a party following their prom crashes into another vehicle. One teen is killed and two in the second vehicle are seriously injured. Alcohol is a factor.

Last year, about 30 percent of the highway fatalities in Pennsylvania involved drunken drivers, so the scenario is hardly unusual.

Drinking and driving don’t mix. To bring that message home to students at West Greene High School, a mock crash was conducted on the high school football field Thursday morning, two days before the students’ high school prom.

As about 275 students in grades nine through 12 watched from the bleachers as emergency responders poured onto the field.

Firefighters stabilized one car that was on its roof and extricated two people, a mother and her 8-year-old son who were trapped in the other. Ambulance personnel treated the injured and a Lifeflight helicopter flew in to take the one young victim to the hospital.

Police also were on scene and arrested the teenage driver, the only person unharmed, for driving under the influence of alcohol and more serious charges. The coroner pronounced dead the teenage girl who had decided to accompany the arrested teen on their prom night.

“It all goes back to choices,” said high school principal Scott Sakai. “We want the students to be aware of the choices they make and how those choices may impact them and others. Unfortunately, the choice to drive drunk is one a lot of people make all too often.”

The mock crash was organized by the Center Township Volunteer Fire Company in conjunction with the school district and with the assistance of others, including EMS Southwest ambulance, Richhill Volunteer Fire Company’s ambulance, state police, Greene County sheriff’s office and Lifeflight.

“The purpose is to make students aware that three or four hours of fun at the prom can go south in a very short time by doing something stupid,” said Charles Jones, fire chief. “If we save one of those student’s life by doing this, it’s all worth it.”

Few of the students probably ever had the chance to view the scene of a crash as bad as the one played out on the field.

The idea was to let the students know what goes on following a crash, hoping part of it will stay with them, said Amy Deter, chairman of the fire company’s fire prevention committee, which organized the event.

The students watched as firefighters removed the roof of the car containing the mother and her son, as emergency medical technicians connect IV bags to the injured who were spattered in fake blood, and as police and the coroner covered the dead body of the teenage girl with a white sheet.

As part of the demonstration, fire company personnel and police will be at the school today to do a follow up with the students.

Information will be provided about those injured in the crash and their conditions, as well as about the charges that will be filed against the teen driver and the possible sentence he could receive as a result, Deter said.

Jeffrey Isiminger, 18, of Holbrook, a member of the prom court, which participated in the demonstration as friends of the teens, said he believed the event would have an impact on the students.

“They see the ambulances, the fire trucks and the police, it has a greater effect when they have all that,” he said.

“I think it’s an eye opener,” said Austin Eddy, 18, another member of the prom court. He, too, believed the idea behind the demonstration would reach the students.

“It shows that if you do something stupid, there are consequences,” Eddy said. “If you drink, don’t drive, If you do the chances of being in an accident are much greater.”

Bob Niedbala is a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter. He has worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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