Sure, Brookfield police Cpl. Scott Thompson said, some of the Brookfield High juniors and seniors who saw the mock crash staged May 1 at the school thought of it as a big joke.
But, if even one student thinks twice about a decision to drive after having downed a couple beers, then it’s worth it, he said.
“I do get it,” Thompson told the students. “I was young once. Make better choices.”
Brookfield police and fire – with support from Brookfield schools, including a number of seniors who agreed to be made up as crash victims, and Watson’s Towing of Hubbard, which supplied the vehicles – staged the event ahead of the weekend’s prom. The gruesome makeup was courtesy of Roni Conner, a Trumbull County 911 dispatcher and Fowler firefighter.
The scenario was a head-on crash between a pickup and a minivan. The minivan driver was thrown out the front window, perched precariously on the hood with his ribs exposed from the impact. Three passengers also were injured, as well as the passenger in the pickup.
Students listened to the 911 call go out on the crash, saw police arrive and assess the scene, then firefighters treated the victims and extricated those who were trapped.
Police pulled out the pickup driver (portrayed by Jordan Tingler), who was unhurt but unsteady on his feet. Police removed bottles and cans of beer and liquor from the cab, and ran the driver through a series of field sobriety tests and had him blow into a breathing machine that measured his blood-alcohol level.
The driver’s father barges onto the scene and interferes with the police investigation, ending up in handcuffs even before his son is arrested.
Throughout the exercise, senior Donnie Davis, who portrayed the minivan driver, had to remain still as he lay on the hood, untouched until the coroner’s office arrived to take away his lifeless body.
Thompson did play-by-play, so the students understood the police investigation and how the sobriety tests were conducted.
“I’ve personally seen this, and I assure you it’s not something you want to do,” he said.
Even worse than trying to help the people involved in the crash is having to show up at someone’s home to tell them their son or daughter or father or sister was killed in a crash that they caused, or that they didn’t cause, he said.
“I’ve done it,” he said of making those visits.
Senior Dustin Moffett stressed to his peers that “this is very real. This is no joke.”
The prevalence of alcohol in traffic deaths, especially among the young, is striking, and people who start drinking when they are young are more likely to become statistics, he said.
“Don’t do anything stupid this weekend,” Dustin said. “It’s one thing to have fun. Don’t put others’ lives in jeopardy.”
Just like in the scenario, it’s typical that the drunk driver walks away with no physical injury, while the injuries to others involved are serious or fatal, Thompson said. Think about your parents, your friends and even people you don’t know, he said.
“It affects your lives, your family’s, your future,” he said, adding that a typical adult sentence for someone convicted of an alcohol-related traffic crash that results in death is 3 to 5 years in prison.
While he was not condoning drinking or taking drugs, Thompson said you can rectify the poor decision to imbibe by calling a parent or a friend to come get you instead of climbing behind the wheel, he said.
While the scenario depicted an alcohol-related crash, you don’t have to be drunk or stoned to be at fault for a tragedy. Distracted driving – driving while texting or checking for messages – and reckless driving can have disastrous consequences, he said.
Firefighter Randy Richman said you cannot plan for everything that will occur in your life. “Accidents are gonna happen,” he said. But, consistently making good decisions puts you in the best position to stay safe.
“If you make good decisions and not put yourself in this position, you done a great job,” he said.