May 4, 2006
Prom season kicks off on Saturday in many areas. Tonight, some students got a simulated look at the tragic side of drunk driving. It is an image repeated many times around the country: severe car crashes involving teenage drivers and alcohol. Even though this was just a simulation, it tried to drive the point home.
The simulation all started innocent enough, eight kids, two cars, one big accident. It was a scene that is all too familiar this time of year.
"It's tragic when you lose anybody, but when you lose someone young, it's more of an impact," said William Monroe High School Resource Officer Jason Tooley.
As a Sheriff's Deputy, Tooley knows the impact of drunk driving accidents. With prom coming up on Saturday, he wanted to show students what an accident scene looked like. It was an image that stunned some onlookers.
"I never knew it took that much stuff to get somebody out after a wreck," said Travis Roach.
"It's not funny anymore. It's pretty scary actually," said Ben Johansen.
Tooley says he can not recall any prom-related accidents in the past several years however his main goal is to make sure the kids are safe.
"Sunday or Monday, if I can wake up and pick up the paper up and read that there were no collisions and no fatalities in Greene County, then I know I've done my job," Tooley said.
Nearly 17,000 people die nationwide each year from drunk driving related crashes. This simulation put that stat into plain view.
"It really shows people in reality what can really happen when people drink and drive," said Nicole Thomas.
"If this had been real life, she [would have] lost two friends. It's really made an affect on her," said mother Michelle Thomas.
The simulation ended with the most poignant image of all, a teenager being placed into a body bag and taken away. An image that drove home the point.
"If you are drinking and driving, call somebody to pick you up," Nocole Thomas continued.
Obviously no one involved in the demonstration was injured. Organizers say they hope it makes the students think before they drink. William Monroe's prom is this coming Saturday.