‘Looks So Real’
Mock Crash Aims For Danger Authenticity
CLYMER — In Clymer Central School’s mock DWI crash scenario, some students were left bloodied, one was arrested, one was flown away and another pronounced dead. While a simulation, the realism of the event has been key for its 23 years of operation.
“It’s real,” said Kathleen Whitmore, Clymer health teacher. “It looks so real.”
Whitmore said the simulation is worth it if it impacts at least one student. Clymer hosts the mock crash every four years to demonstrate the dangers to students entering high school.
The event is managed by Chautauqua County’s Starflight Mock DWI Program.
A skit put on by members of Clymer Students Against Destructive Decisions, formerly known as Students Against Drunk Driving, simulated two pre-prom parties with one engaging in underage drinking. The fake scenario sets up one Clymer senior to get behind the wheel of her vehicle after drinking. In the narrative, a head-on collision as the result of a student’s drinking, leaves the passenger in her vehicle dead.
The simulation is similar to others held at local school districts. The primary goal is to deter students from driving after drinking or using drugs.
Featuring Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputies and Sheriff Jim Quattrone himself, students were taken through the possible outcomes of drinking and driving. An arraignment featuring Judge Laurie Beckerink was also simulated.
Following the crash, the county’s Starflight helicopter landed on the football field and loaded one of the victims into the vehicle before taking flight. The event was the last for Starflight as a new provider will be used in the near future.
Going forward, a helicopter will not be provided for future mock DWI crashes, according to Ron Hasson, EMS resources manager and local Mock DWI Crash coordinator.
Hasson said the realistic nature of the mock scenarios was a necessity. Having observed previous iterations prior to the county’s program, that began more than 20 years ago, he said he saw students not paying attention. Now, with fake blood, wrecked cars and a sequence based in reality, the mood is different.
“We throw as much realism as we can under the guise of theater too,” Hasson said.