Every 15 minutes there is an alcohol-related fatality in the United States. Hillsborough High School students on Thursday witnessed what an accident scene looks like from just a few feet away.
A coordinated effort of fire, police and EMS personnel, along with students and school administrators, portrayed the reality of a car accident in dramatic fashion. Students who pretended to have serious injuries were placed in wrecked vehicles. The program, in its second year, took the students through what it would be like at a real accident scene.
"The focus here was on drinking and driving, said Ryan Buckley, of Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2. "And now they are incorporating texting and cell phone use while driving. We are trying to make this an every year thing. Last year, it was timed perfectly. There were only two days that the program could occur. The accident was Thursday and the memorial service was the morning of the prom."
The driver of the vehicle was given a sobriety test and arrested while the body of a passenger was removed from the vehicle and pronounced dead. Other passengers were removed from the vehicle with the "Jaws of Life" and taken by ambulance and medical helicopter for treatment while the "Grim Reaper" walked silently around the scene.
"It was as bad being the driver's parent as the victim's parent. It was horrific and there is no closure for anything like this," said Mary Von Nessen, mother of the "drunk driver," John Von Nessen. "This is a wonderful program."
The program continued from the high school with driver John Von Nessen being arraigned while being represented by an attorney before a judge. A memorial service will be held Friday for the two students who "died" in the crash.
"This is a program that is a year-long project," Buckley said.