MHS hosts emotional Mock Crash before prom
By Logan Watson
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Juniors and seniors at Milan High School had a lot to ponder before last Saturday’s prom, thanks to one of the most emotional and haunting Mock DUI Crash programs the school has seen in recent memory.
Like the other mock accidents, students play the parts of both the victims and the drunk driver. The drivers exit their vehicles. One, hysterical, surveys the gruesome scene; the other staggers around the crash site, flippantly denying being drunk.
The sirens of law enforcement officials and first responders cut through the still air. Officer Gray Scott of the Milan Police Department checks on the passengers until the EMS and fire departments arrive, then detains the driver, performing a field sobriety test. Rescue crews rush into action, attempting to free the passengers trapped inside the vehicles, but for some, they are already too late.
Students often dismiss programs like these, considering them hokey and over-the-top, but last Tuesday’s production resonated with many of the kids.
As the scene winds down, the drunk driver is handcuffed and arrested. The victims are hurried to waiting ambulances, except for one, whose body lies on the pavement in front of the onlookers, covered in a white sheet. The law enforcement officers on the scene escort a woman over to the body and pull back the sheet.
The woman falls to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably.
While the woman grieves over the loss of her child, MHS student Sarah Grace Duncan read a poem. The poem, “I went to a party, mom”, which is used in drunk driving programs and PSAs across the nation. The poem, while heavy-handed, is moving on its own, but Duncan’s delivery hit very close to home for several students and adults in attendance. Duncan wept openly as she read the narrator’s dying thoughts, bringing many to tears.
“It just hit me really hard,” Duncan said of the poem. “I had a lot of people come up to me at school and tell me that it really touched their hearts. I’m glad I got to do that.”
“As the incident was winding down, I had a chance to look into the crowd of students and could see many with tears in their eyes,” said Officer Scott. “Most of these kids have never experienced something as traumatic as a DUI accident involving the death of a friend or family member. To see a child their age lying motionless under a sheet should be eye-opening. I hope and pray that I never have to deliver the news of a child’s passing to a parent. Doing it in a mock drill was hard enough.”
Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas shared his experiences with DUI accidents, both professionally and personally, in hopes that the students would make better decisions on prom night. Sheriff Thomas lost one of his older sisters, Karen, a 27-year-old mother of two, in a similar accident.
“A drunk driver took her away from us, all because he made a stupid decision to get behind the wheel,” Sheriff Thomas told the students. “It never gets easy to tell that story, but I’m glad I do. We’re tired of seeing young people lose their lives. Don’t make us keep doing that. Make memories and have fun, but make good choices.”