NEW MADISON — Students at Tri-Village High School received a dramatic lesson on impaired driving Thursday as the school held a mock car crash in advance of the school’s prom this weekend.
Tri-Village seniors Brandon Peters, Jenna Fisherback, Elijah Fourman and Jenna Coffman played the role of accident victims as their classmates looked on.
Units from New Madison Police, New Madison Fire Department, and Tri-Village and Liberty Township Rescues arrived at the scene to extract the victims from the two wrecked vehicles, a head-on collision caused by drunk driving.
As well, a LifeLine helicopter from Indiana University Health landed at a nearby field to transport one of the student victims for treatment.
One of the students, representing the drunk driver, was questioned by police and had to undergo sobriety testing before being taken into custody. One student was extracted from a vehicle by the “Jaws of Life” before being transported by ambulance for treatment. The fourth student’s body was claimed at the scene by the coroner.
Following the recreation of an accident scene, students in the auditorium witnessed a mock funeral for one of their classmates. As well, they heard the real-life experiences of Deputy Josh Brinley from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.
Brinley told the students that since 1996 there have been 211 fatalities in Darke County due to car wrecks. He said he has personally investigated 80 fatalities since starting in 2006.
“I’ve seen a bunch of them. I’ve seen scenes very similar to what you guys saw out there, the real thing. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff — some stuff I can’t get out of my head,” he said.
Brinley warned students against not only drinking and driving but also driving while distracted, such as using cellphones or texting. He also urged them to wear their seatbelts.
“It is very serious to me, I take it to heart…I don’t want to be the deputy who stands here and shakes his finger at you, but I’ve been affected by these crashes.”
Tri-Village High School Principal Lee Morris asked students to consider not only the emotional and physical costs of dangerous driving, but the financial costs, noting that LifeLine’s flight that day, by itself, was a $17,000 expenditure, not including the costs incurred by the local emergency first responders.
“So the question for you is, why would they willingly spend all that money?” he asked. “Because they want a return on their investment. They’re willing to invest over $20,000 to teach you a lesson. That’s why they’re willing to spend their time.”
Morris said the school tries to have a mock crash scene like this every four years, so that every class that comes through Tri-Village will have at least one opportunity to understand the devastating effects that drunk or distracted driving can have.
“With the high schoolers here to witness this, hopefully the message is well received,” he said.