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Mock Crash Kills Prom Dreams

Brighton High School students demonstrate how deadly drinking and driving can be.

hosted a Mock Accident for students Tuesday. The dramatic event was a re-enactment of four students who drank before going to prom and hit a tree, crushing their car and killing one of them. With the Livingston County EMS, , and a touchdown by the niversity of Michigan Survival Flight, the mock accident aimed to be a life-changing event.

Prom season is upon us, and Randy Swain, an emergency room nurse and parent volunteer, feels an urgency to present the program and show the truths behind drinking and driving for teens.

Around prom, students are more likely to make riskier decisions, Swain said, because the weather is warmer, and they are about to graduate. They are even less likely to make appropriate choices when alcohol is added, she said. This is Swain's third year participating in the Mock Accident, but the high school's 15th. The Mock Accident is held every three years.

Swain personally picks the students to be involved from BHS.

"It makes it more emotionally engaging and only the principal knows who they are," she said. "I pick students who are in leadership groups, students who are engaged in the schools activities, but those you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be drinking and driving." 

The four seniors chosen to be in the car were driver Nick Yuhasz, passenger Morgan Zebley, who was extricated through the windshield, and Lauren Larsen and Anthony Swain, who sat in the back seat.

Participants went through a dry-run one week before, then met the morning of the Mock Accident to go over the details one more time, what it should look like and the roles they were to play. An actual 911 call was recorded ahead of time at Brighton Police Dispatch to give it a realistic, time-sensitive feel.

A parent volunteer did the makeup and costuming, while provided a hearse to take away one of the students.

Brighton Fire Marshall Michael O'Brian was the master of ceremonies, narrating what happened on the field as well as to the student's internal organs during the rescue. The scoreboard was on from when the 911 call was made all the way to the end to show how minutes are crucial in an accident.

"There is the golden hour in a rescue that first responders live by. If we can get to an accident, rescue a victim and have them to the hospital within an hour their chances of survival are very good," O'Brian said.

Expecting about 3,000 students to be in attendance, BHS hired Arial Enterprises, an audio production company from Hamburg, to do sound so the students could hear everything very clearly. All 8th-12th grade students were invited from the local public schools, as well as any parochial and homeschool groups who would like to come. With so many students they are also prepared to help those both physically or emotionally who are affected by their production. 

"There are usually a dozen or so that need some type of medical attention either during or after the event," Swain said.

So, Swain was also in charge of a triage area where students who faint or feel ill can be treated as some are affected so greatly. They also had a social worker volunteering to help students with emotional trauma from the event as well.

The goal of the mock accident is to discourage students from engaging in behaviors that are harmful to both themselves and others, becoming a statistic like these quoted by Fire Marshal Mike O'Brian:

  • 15 percent of all teens involved in crashes have alcohol in their systems.
  • 35 percent of motor vehicle crashes involving 16- to 20-year-olds end in death and 37 percent of those are alcohol related.
  • 8 young people per day die in alcohol-related crashes; on the weekend one teen dies per hour and 50 percent of those deaths are alcohol related.
Jennifer Whitbeck May 04, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Yes, it is a little scary Haley. Hopefully students will make wise decisions after seeing what can happen.
Angela May 04, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Can't a prom just be a prom? Guess not.
Haley Sluis May 04, 2011 at 05:22 PM
ya i hope so to
Jennifer Whitbeck May 04, 2011 at 05:32 PM
We would all like to think that it could be but there are so many, especially judging by the statistics, that don't respect it in that way. It is disheartening that these types of programs need to spell it out for teens and parents but sometimes we get complacent in our thinking and need a "wake up" call to pull us out of it. This is a reality that exists, unfortunately.
Sherri Yezbick-Taylor May 05, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Sad but true....excellent article, Jenn. All too often kids think that tragedies like this can't happen to them, but they can and do. A past coworker of mine crashed his car while driving drunk when he was young. His best friend, who was in the passenger seat, was killed. I couldn't even begin to imagine how he deals with it, to this day. A tragedy, all around.

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