A car sits smashed against a big oak tree. Four teenagers, dressed in prom attire, lie unconscious and injured in the car. One girl is half ejected through the front windshield, one boy, with severe injuries, is slumped against the door in the back seat and will never move again.
The driver has a head wound as does another girl passenger. The driver staggers from the car to check on his friends and discovers his date, covered in blood, barely alive on the windshield and his friend in the back seat is dead.
Fortunately for all involved, this was a staged "accident" and no one was actually injured. The Pratt High School Student Council presented the scene Tuesday just after noon, complete with an actual wrecked car, four students in elaborate injury makeup, emergency services including city police, Pratt County EMS, Pratt County Rescue and Pratt Fire Department.
The event was staged to give students a vivid reminder that the decision to drive drunk can have very serious consequences. The event is staged every two years during the week before prom.
In the scenario the driver, played by Jonathan Schotte, is under the influence of alcohol and is driving to the prom with his date, played by Katie Buhler, and two friends, played by Brittnee Hill and Anthony Cannata.
During the event the entire high school student body gathered around the site to watch the mock accident. Emergency services come to the site with red lights and sirens and treated the scene like a real accident.
Student response to event varied. A few laughed and some yelled out to the actors but the vast majority stood in the cold and focused on action.
For student Brittany Steel it was scary. A friend of hers had been killed in a car wreck where alcohol was involved and it was a powerful reminder for her.
"I felt sick," Steel said.
Chase Hageman said students should take the event more seriously and not make jokes.
"It showed what would happen if we did decide to drink and drive," Hageman said. "It's a joke for some now but it wouldn't be in a real situation."
Andi Gripe, a STUCO member, said she wanted people to take it more seriously and that it was a serious presentation.
Student Council President Sam Eastes said STUCO presented the event in hopes that the students would realize that drinking and driving is not a joke.
He said he was proud of the STUCO members that volunteered to be part of this lesson. He also offered thanks to Doug Reh Chevrolet for the donated car and to all the emergency services that helped make the event as real as possible.
Page 2 of 2 - If the event got even just one student to think about drinking and driving then it was an important event, said STUCO Sponsor Noel Buller.
This event was a jolting reminder to the students how dangerous bad decisions can be, said PHS Principal Steve Blankenship.
It was a message to be safe and smart during prom and at graduation. Hopefully, it will open their eyes. It's harder to make a smart decision than to make a snap decision that can get the student into trouble.
Students also need to recognize that distracted driving can be just as dangerous whether it's talking on a cell phone, texting or reaching for a dropped French fry, Blankenship said.
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