Cedarville High School students came face to face with the realities of texting or drinking and driving during a mock car accident.
Wrecked cars, fake blood and emergency response teams were all part of the mock presentation, complete with a coroner and two “dead” bodies.
Cathy Reese with Cedarville School District teaches drivers education. After contacting Tammy Biggs with the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center, the two organized the March 28 event to teach kids about the dangers of texting or drinking and driving.
Students first watched a video, filmed by a team organized by Reese and Biggs, that showed two separate groups of people preparing to leave their homes.
In the video, a mother and her two kids are getting ready to go to a birthday party. Another scene shows a pre-prom partying group of teenagers. Both groups leave their home, and the intoxicated driver of the teenage car is shown texting right before the two cars collide.
Students then were dismissed to go to the football field, where they found the accident scene. One girl has gone through the windshield of her car and is covered in what looks to be blood.
Law enforcement and emergency response teams rush to the accident and begin trying to help the injured. A wailing mother shows up looking for her child. There is even an evac helicopter to rush one person to the hospital.
Two people are pronounced dead by the coroner and are covered in sheets and taken away in hearses. The driver who caused the accident is taken away in handcuffs.
Students then watched a second video that showed Crawford County District Court Judge Steven G. Peer sentencing the driver with jail time and fines. A real woman from Greenwood then gave the account of how her father was killed by a girl who was texting and driving.
Though not all students may have taken the tragic reality seriously, Reese hopes it made others rethink their actions, she said.
Samantha Blankenship, a senior at CHS, was impressed by the reality of the mock accident, she said.
“It made me really open my eyes…to not texting and driving, or driving under the influence because it can be really dangerous,” Blankenship said.
Though Blankenship keeps her phone off while driving - a rule of her father - she has seen other do it and one of her brother’s friends was in an accident from texting and driving, she said.
Blankenship appreciated that the inclusion of police and emergency response teams show what would actually happen in a fatal car accident, she said.
“They worked it like a real accident,” said Brittany Richards, a junior at CHS.
Richards worked behind the scenes, helping with actors’ makeup and organizing, she said. Even though she “knew what was going on,” she said it still seemed realistic.
Assistance and props were provided by Southwest EMS, Air Evac Life Team, Crawford County Rural Fire Departments Four, Five and Six, retired Van Buren officer George Cabaniss, B and L Salvage, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Cedarville, Alma and Van Buren police, Lewis Funeral Home and Edwards Funeral Home, Judge Peer, and Sebastian County Coroner Terry Campbell.
Though she is not sure of the students’ reactions, Reese still hopes the presentation made a difference, she said.
“If we can just move one person and make them stop and think, then we’ve done something,” Reese said.