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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Mock accident shows danger of teens drinking and driving

Sunday, April 27, 2003

South Scott County Ambulance District Administrator Jeff Cole applies finishing touches to the "wound" of Scott County student-volunteer Casey Fodge.
SIKESTON -- Despite the looming thunder clouds and rain, a mock car accident was held at Scott County Central High School Friday in an effort to prevent students from drinking and driving.

In fact, it was so believable that a woman living near the school ran up to the scene, wondering if anyone was injured. After a school official informed her the accident wasn't real, she stuck around to watch the event.

"With prom being this weekend, we wanted to refresh the students' memories about the importance of not drinking and driving," explained Scott County Central High School Principal Jeff Koonce.

At least four other area schools held their prom this weekend and many schools are still anticipating the high school event.

"What we're trying to do with the mock accident is prevent deaths," noted Tawana Presley of NBC Fire and Protection District. "We're all volunteering our time today to try and prevent at least one life from being taken by a drunk driver."

In addition to NBC Fire and Protection District, the South Scott County Ambulance District, the Vanduser Fire Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Scott County Coroner Scott Amick, Scott County Sheriff's Department and ARCH helicopter service volunteered for the mock accident. Planning a mock accident takes a couple of weeks and is done at a school district approximately every other year, Presley said.

"We want to target the different students and by doing a mock accident every other year, we think we can hit the other groups," Presley said.

In 2002, 17,970 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol, representing 42 percent of the 42,850 people killed in all traffic crashes (up from the 41 percent killed in 2001), according to preliminary National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

On Friday, nine high school students clad in makeup and torn clothes acted as those involved and bystanders of the accident. The participants were students who volunteered from Scott Central's Student Council. They all admitted they were nervous and scared prior to and during the "accident."

"We talk to the students who are in the accident ahead of time and remind them that this is not a funny experience and it is serious," said Paramedic Joel Bockelman

During the two-vehicle mock accident Friday, one person died, one was air evacuated by helicopter, three injured people were transported by ambulance and one was arrested for drinking and driving. Some of the participants were "ejected" from the vehicle and two were cut out of the car by officials using the Jaws of Life.

While the target audience is all students, sometimes it's the "actors" who benefit most from the mock accident.

"Last year when we were at Kelly (High School), a girl was getting cut out (of a car) and she was shaking so much. We thought she was just acting really good, but she was really scared and freaking out," Presley recalled.

Following the mock accident an assembly was held in the gym where a spokesperson for MADD told the students the story of her daughter who was killed by a drunk driver. She reminded the students of the importance of their lives and the lives of those around them.

Over half of all traffic deaths involving teens during prom/graduation weekends (mid-April through mid-June) from 6 p.m. Friday to 5:59 p.m. Sunday in 2000 were alcohol-related fatalities, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Koonce said: "If we can reaffirm the kids to stay away from alcohol and get through to just one student, then we'll be happy."