News

Mock crash site sends powerful message to teens

By MARGO HORNER

The Mirror

When Brian Miller stumbled out of a beat-up truck covered in blood last week, the crowd of high school seniors watching fell silent.

Everyone knew he was faking it when he crawled across the cement, spitting and moaning. But despite the theatrical blood and rehearsed script, the message at the mock crash site was very real:

Don’t drink and drive.

The seniors in the audience remained solemn as they watched Miller call his mom on a cellphone and begin to cry.

“I really messed up this time,” said Miller, a senior at Todd Beamer High School.

Police cars and fire trucks swarmed the crash site with sirens blaring. Miller was treated and arrested. One passenger played dead and another was wheeled into the back of an ambulance.

“I’m trying to get teens to stop drinking and driving, or stop drinking all together,” said Rockne Simon, a junior who acted as the dead passenger in the scene.

The message comes at a critical time, said Scott Haines, leadership adviser at Todd Beamer. With prom night a month away, high school graduation approaching and spring parties, children need to be reminded about making smart choices.

“Our goal is to create an awareness that bad decisions can have horrific results,” Haines said.

Drinking and driving, or riding with a drunken driver, are issues that high school students are faced with, said Holden Shuck, a Todd Beamer junior who organized the event.

“I can’t say it happens a lot, but it does happen,” Holden said. “As long as we can influence one person to not drink and drive, we’ve saved a life.”

Kendra Kay, a spokeswoman for South King County Fire and Rescue, said the mock crash was a good way to capture the attention of high school students and educate them about potential dangers on the roadways.

“We hope kids never experience anything like this,” Kay said. “These are some of the hardest calls that they (emergency personnel) go on, especially when it involves kids.”

Kay took the opportunity to point out that alcohol isn’t the only danger for teenagers driving. Failing to wear seat belts, text messaging while driving and speeding are all dangers that drivers should avoid, she said.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Drive safely

In the United States, there were 16,885 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2005, averaging one every half-hour.

Alcohol-related crashes represented 39 percent of all United States traffic fatalities in 2005. In Washington state, alcohol-related crashes represented 45 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2005.

About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

In 2000, there were more alcohol-related traffic fatalities on prom and graduation weekends than most holidays, including New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day and Fourth of July.

On prom and graduation weekends in 2000, there were an average of 136 alcohol-related traffic fatalities each weekend across the country.

Source: www.madd.org.

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