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Crash course in safe driving

Alissa Widman Neese • Apr 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Paramedics and firefighters surrounded two mangled cars. Some of their classmates were trapped inside, and one lay dead, ejected through the windshield.

Precious seconds ticked by. All was silent.

Fortunately, the gruesome scenario was only a demonstration.

But all too often, it’s real.

Students in Vermilion High School’s Peer Leadership class hosted a mock crash Monday at the school’s football stadium, which all high school students attended.

The grim presentation illustrated how law enforcement and medical services respond to a potentially fatal crash scene.

“I think it was powerful,” said senior Madison Pack, who participated in the event. Senior Marissa Rodriguez crafted the script for the mock crash.

The tragic story: A drunken driver, a high school student, ran a red light, causing a collision that injured or killed his innocent classmates in the other involved car. Vermilion High School students took on each role, doused in fake blood, with some taken from the scene in an ambulance and a hearse.

It was the first time in at least 10 years the school hosted such an event. “It’s as realistic as you can get without an actual crash occurring,” Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper John McGlashan said.

Several local agencies teamed up to make it happen, including Vermilion police and firefighters, North Central Emergency Medical Services, Riddle Funeral Home, L&M Towing, Life Flight, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

Many area schools host mock crashes during prom season each year to promote safe driving habits, encourage students to wear their seat belts and curb drunken or distracted driving. Norwalk Schools hosted one this past year, and Sandusky Schools plans to soon, McGlashan said.

“We wanted to convey as many messages as possible, to show students that this can affect anyone,” said Christine Reynolds, who advises Vermilion High School’s two Peer Leadership classes. “It really goes beyond drinking and driving. If this helps just at least one student, it was worth it to me”

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