Friday morning, members of Wallenpaupack Area High School’s, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) program, presented a very realistic mock car crash to educate students about what could happen if people drink and drive.
Although the presentation was a general informational scenario, it took place on Friday, because an estimated 400, ninth through 12th graders were expected to attend Sunday’s prom. Marcus Sabrowski, the Vice President of SADD, said the organization was not trying to scare party goers, but to, "try to change their actions and how they value life." He added that, the best way for things to change would be by letting the students know that, "destructive decisions can lead to a detrimental end to peoples’ lives."
Area emergency responders including the state police, the Tafton Fire Company, a coroner and the Medevac from the Leigh Valley Health Network participated in the demonstration, just as if it was the real thing. And it seemed real, as students from the theater department showed emotions and expressions that could not have seemed any more real than if it was happening in a movie.
A student led operation, some of the students involved in the crash were not only SADD members, but well-known students including athletes and the homecoming queen.
Thursday evening, the fire department removed the windows of the vehicles, because come Friday morning, as part of the demonstration, some of the participants were lying on the hoods of the vehicles and hanging out the windows, as steam rose from the car’s engine. SADD advisor, Cindy Gregorski said during rehearsal, students were affected because of the emotion and reality of what was going on. But following the presentation, she said she saw tears and students hugging one another.
Every two to three years, the school does the mock crash and this year, senior Jordon Brown said, "they stepped it up a lot." He explained that with the inclusion of a fifth grader from the North Primary school, the presentation had a stronger impact because it showed that, the students who drink and drive, "don’t just affect teenagers and older people; you can also affect young kids."
Gregorski said including Tommy Lane, the fifth grade participant, was meant to give students a different perspective that, their actions could affect more than just other teenagers, but also families and children.
A senior, Jake Brown acted as the drunk driver in the demonstration. He said it was a scary experience because he has never gotten detention, let alone, being handcuffed and placed in a police car. He called the experience, "a reality checked," because people cannot do "reckless things like this, so you have to be careful."
First Assistant Chief of the Tafton Fire Department, Michael Cozza said some of the students were receptive and then there was also a group where, "it goes in one ear and out the other," because they think they won’t be affected by drinking and driving. He added, "hopefully they’re right."
Second Assistant Chief for the department, Ryan Rosa-Marti, said the department wanted to show the students the large number of people who are involved in the recovery process, from the 911 call to sending the injured off in a helicopter. He said, the mock crash could, "hopefully save some lives."
Of the demonstration, SADD advisor, Brett Buselli, said he hoped that the kids learned something because, "if it changed one kid’s mind, then it’s worth it." The mock crash, he said, was a visual way to teach kids that for, "their action, they need to be held accountable."