A view at the scene
“City units, we have a 10-50 PI with a possible fatality at E and Tyler!”
“106 and 107 10-4.”
The 10-code numbers screaming over the Washington emergency radio bands tell emergency responders that an accident has occurred. The PI means personal injury – in this case several injuries. The possible fatality, senior Lauren Carter, daughter of John and Kim Carter, was ejected from the vehicle and is lying on the side of the roadway. The two cars full of Washington High School students begin waking up after the accident. The ones who are still able begin climbing from their crushed vehicles, cradling limbs with injuries and going to try to help their downed friend as the sirens begin approaching.
The situation wasn’t real, but it was meant to show what can happen if someone makes one bad decision. This morning, members of the Washington Police Department, Washington County Ambulance, Washington Fire Department, Washington County Attorney’s Office and the Washington School District enacted the scene for the Washington High School student body, which had gathered on the side of the roadway.
Washington County Ambulance arrives first. The paramedics begin determining the injuries. The Washington County Rescue Squad and officers show up.
Two cars and two groups of kids doing different things — after the prom, both groups had been going to different activities. One group had been to the dance while the other had gone off to do other things. On the way, one vehicle cut a corner and struck the other vehicle head-on. An investigation shows that the driver of one of the vehicles, Lynette Kennedy, daughter of Jim and Cynthia Kennedy had been drinking and smoking K2, a synthetic marijuana. She is placed under arrest. Firefighters work to extract the people from the vehicles. It is determined the two most severely injured people cannot be removed from the vehicle without firefighters cutting the top off. A blanket is used to cover Carter, as she is now evidence in a vehicular homicide investigation.
Kennedy, the alleged drunk driver, said that the group Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) had helped stage the simulation to show students what can happen if they make wrong choices with their safety.
“I crashed into Alex’s (Coker) car and killed Lauren (Carter),” she said, with fake blood trickling down her forehead. “We hope to prevent drunk driving during prom and make it safer.”
A mock trial was held, in which she was found guilty. According to the simulation, her bad decision not only had bad consequences for her and her passengers, but for completely innocent classmates in the other car who were only heading to the afterprom event.
Carter, the fatal victim as well as Peer Helper president, said after the simulation that she hoped to convince anyone thinking about making a bad decision to think twice.
“This shows what can happen if you drink alcohol and what happens during an investigation and a trial,” she said. “We had volunteers come and help us getting everything set up.”
She said the group had worked on the production for about two months.
Coker, son of Bob and Connie Coker, suffered a compound fracture of the leg. He said that any career in sports would be over.
“The whole re-enactment is a real possibility that it might happen to someone,” he said. “It actually could happen. I can’t imagine what my life would be like after something like that.”
Sammy Ellingson, daughter of Shawn and Stephanie Ellingson, who recently won a medal for her high jumping, was diagnosed with a broken neck. She reported to paramedics that she was unable to feel her hands or her legs. She was paralyzed.
“It was overwhelming to see it all,” she said. “This is important to me because I am very much against any type of destructive decision. My dad is a police officer and with the environment I have grown up around, anything I can do to make life a better place for someone else is a good thing to do.”
She said that she couldn’t begin to imagine what it would be like to actually go through something like the accident. She said the only reason she was able to stay calm during the simulation is that she knew it wasn’t real. She said that people need to pay attention to this kind of thing.
Logan Moeller, son of Kristine and David Moeller, a victim of the crash, said that the simulation was “eye-opening.”
“It’s a lot more impacting on you to see what would actually happen in real life,” he said. “It is kind of nerve-wracking to think that this does happen.”
Shawn Ellingson, Sammy’s father and a sergeant of the Washington Police Department, narrated the accident for the students. He said that such an accident hadn’t happened in Washington and he hopes that the prom, as well as other times, will continue to be safe for the students.
“Fortunately in Washington, I think our kids have made good choices and we haven’t had this situation,” he said. “You read around the United States that these things happen. It is our goal to prevent them.”