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Mock crash shows students consequences of distracted driving

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By Kristin Beck

A teenager driving drunk with two passengers in the car collides head-on with an SUV driven by a teenager who was texting and driving, carrying a front-seat passenger and a baby in the backseat, neither wearing seatbelts. Beer cans and pill bottles litter the ground. Three people die, two are rushed to the hospital and one is arrested.

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This did not actually happen.

It was a mock crash set up by the local emergency service agencies for educational purposes. But it is a scenario that could happen if people make poor choices.

That was the message given to the Carroll County High School student body Friday afternoon. With prom just around the corner, representatives from the Carrollton Police Department, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Carroll County EMS, Carrollton Fire Department, Carroll County Rescue, Carroll County Coroner’s Office, Air Methods, Department of Transportation and Carroll County Detention Center set up the mock crash to remind them about the consequences that come with making bad decisions.

Tracey Reynolds with the Youth Services Center organized the exercise. M&M Towing donated the two cars, and CCHS advanced art students Olivia Welch, Reyes Castellon and Amber Perry put the makeup on the students.

As the exercise began, the drunk driver, played by junior Daniel Lindsay was pulled out of the car and administered a sobriety test by Carrollton Police Officer Tim Mitchell. Lindsay wore beer goggles simulating a blood-alcohol content of .2 percent and was arrested after failing the test.

Senior Leah Chandler, who played the other driver, was removed from the vehicle and flown to the hospital by Air Methods. Emergency service workers used the jaws of life to remove senior Jason Workman, Lindsay’s backseat passenger, from the car, and he was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Lindsay’s other passenger, played by CCHS teacher Becky Woods, died and was taken away in a body bag. Chandler’s front-seat passenger, played by Courtnee Wallace, was thrown through the windshield and died. The plastic baby in the backseat also was thrown from the SUV and died.

Sheriff Jamie Kinman narrated for the students and explained that after the crash, law enforcement must stay around and conduct their investigation. Because three people died, the roads near the crash site would be shut down for five to seven hours. Police must also find and inform the family members of the deceased, which Kinman said was the worst part about his job. “We just ask that you use your heads,” he said. “You can ruin your life and other people’s lives.”

Reynolds said the mock crash is normally performed once every four years, but it has been five years since the last one. Almost all teenagers text, so she wanted the exercise to also show that just because someone is not drinking does not mean they cannot be distracted from the road.

“We call this a mock crash. We call this a mock setup. My question is what does it take to make it real?” Principal John Leeper asked the students after the exercise.

Leeper said they have been fortunate at CCHS so far because when there have been accidents, everyone has come home alive. “But all it takes is some of this junk you see lying on the ground or on the windshield,” he said, referring to the alcohol and drugs. “You are the ones who can prevent it from being real.”

He asked the students to thank all those who volunteered their time to put on the exercise and said that none of the emergency service workers want to come to a scene where the students are involved. “They took the time to do this,” he said, “now you make the commitment to make sure they never have to.”

 

Actors' reaction to exercise

Daniel Lindsay, junior

“It was scary. I never want to be locked in a police car again.”

He said wearing the beer goggles was “horrible. I couldn’t see anything. I felt like I was a baby. I couldn’t do anything. The longer I wore them, the worse it got. I don’t think I’m ever going to drink.”

“I don’t want any of my friends to drink. It’s not a good choice, especially to be driving afterward.”

 

Becky Woods, CCHS teacher

“It just really makes me appreciate how our rescue workers are here for people.” She said being in the body bag “made me nervous. I could hear all the things going on, people communicating with each other. It made me realize how scary it can be if someone is waiting for help, feeling helpless.”

 

Jason Workman, senior

“It was pretty cool, crazy though,” he said of being cut out of the vehicle. “(I learned) not to ride with people who have been drinking.”

 

Leah Chandler, senior

“Don’t text and drive.” She also learned “that it’s not a joke and to always call somebody if you’re drunk and don’t drive.”

 

Courtnee Wallace, senior

“It was very real. It was scary when I was lying there to hear the cops come. … I never want to be in that situation and be alive. It was just scary.”