PITSBURG — The Franklin-Monroe School District and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) staged a mock crash for its high school students, Friday, April 28.
Traffic crashes are preventable and injuries can be significantly minimized through reducing the risks many take while behind the wheel, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). With the possible upcoming Prom, students were sent a very realistic message about impaired driving.
“We wanted to raise awareness and get them to really understand the consequences that can happen,” Franklin-Monroe Principal P J Burgett said.
According to the ODPS, in 2009 118 teens were killed in driving incidents. Of those 118, only 37 teens used their seat belts. In addition, 16,761 teens were injured in crashes. For ages 15-18, Ohio has suffered more than 1,000 young driver fatalities over the past 10 years; one-third happening in rural communities, according to ODPS.
The two part Mock-Crash presentation began outside, with students watching the incidents post- crash. The scene was a real-life depiction of what happens after an accident. Response came from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office, Pitsburg Fire and Arcanum Rescue arriving at the school with sirens in use. The crash resulted in: one death taken away in a hearse from Braund Pope and Oliver-Floyd Funeral Home, one injured requiring assistance from CareFlight, one injured taken in an ambulance and one arrested, after failing a sobriety test. Darke County Office of the Coroner Chief Medicolegal Death Investigator Joe Van Vickle came to investigate the dead student, depicted by Mason Conley. During the presentation, CareFlight Outreach Manager Mandy Via explained the events as they were unfolding.
“I know you guys have had some recent deaths in your community and it is going to be hard to watch this, but we want you to be cognizant of the dangers that can happen when you are driving,” she said. “It could be your little sister, brother or mom sitting next to you. I want you guys to really pay attention, because this can happen to you.”
Following the crash, students went into the gymnasium to hear speakers: Laura Seger, whose son Joey, a senior at Upper Valley Joint Vocational School, (JVS) in Piqua, was killed in a car crash, in 2010; Mississinawa Valley seventh-grader Josie Deaton who lost a sister Christin, in 2014 and Van Vickle. As they went into the gym, students were each handed a memorial card of Conley. Seger told the students to have fun at the Prom.
“Make all those precious memories last, but I don’t want you to become one,” she said. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss Joey. I am begging you as a mom, when you get behind the wheel please make all the right choices.”
“Everything you saw today is as near real life as situations out there,” Van Vickle said. “This was done to help you understand the severity of the situation. There is nothing any worse than walking up to a door, having to knock at any time of the day and having a parent come to the door and see me and or a uniformed officer standing there.”
The presentation ended with a coffin, escorted into the gym, containing Conley. A Eulogy was given while the grieving family sat nearby. When the presentation was over, students filed out of the gym, passing by the coffin. Franklin – Monroe Sophomore student Larkin Ressler said the Mock Crash should cause people to think about their actions more than they did before.
“Everyone saw the severity of the crash, what it could do to families and how it affects their lives,” he said. “I don’t drive yet, but my brother does, so I ride with him everywhere he goes. It seemed too real, more real than what I thought it would. It shocked me.”
The Franklin Monroe Administration and SADD Club would like to publicly thank the students, Hurd’s Service Inc., the Darke County Coronor’s Office, parents, emergency, fire and emergency medical service crews, Braund Pope and Oliver-Floyd Funeral Homes, and CareFlight staff as well as anyone else that helped with the mock crash for the Franklin Monroe High School students.
“It made a great impact on students and staff and we can’t thank everyone enough for all their time, money and energy in which it took to put on this big event,” said a school representative.