Two Kutztown teens were trapped inside a crumpled car, and a female student lay facedown on the pavement Tuesday morning.
Sirens warned of the approach of emergency crews responding to the scene of a Driving Under the Influence accident at 7:50 a.m. in the Kutztown High School parking lot.
One Kutztown student was pronounced deceased at the scene, another died at the hospital and the driver was arrested for DUI during an Operation Arrive Alive mock accident April 29.
“I hope that it teaches them not to text and drive, (not to) drink and drive, because the worst thing for me as a parent is seeing someone my child’s age either dead or severely injured,” said Kutztown paramedic Tami Dengler.
“Be safe, be alert. It can wait,” said Kutztown fire EMS Erin Laporta.
“Sadly, this isn’t an uncommon scenario. It’s as real as it gets,” said Kutztown firefighter TJ Bedesem.
“And usually it’s due to drinking or texting,” said Dengler.
“And speeding, especially on 737,” said Laporta.
Students in grades 9 to 12 watched as EMTs assessed injuries and firefighters used tools to cut the car roof off.
Driver Peter Snyder, 18, a 2013 Kutztown High graduate and Kutztown University freshman, was taken from the scene in handcuffs by a Kutztown Police officer.
A medical evacuation helicopter landed nearby while emergency personnel strapped senior Kailen Moyer to a gurney. They wheeled her to the helicopter and students watched as it took off for the hospital.
The coroner arrived at the scene to place sophomore Sakira Fussner in a body bag, and wheeled her past the crowd.
Students remained silent as they walked to the auditorium for a video presentation showing Moyer in the operating room, her heartbeat flat lining on the monitor and her parents saying their farewell at the hospital.
At the Kutztown Police station, the video showed Snyder in handcuffs, being read his rights. Next, Snyder appeared before Judge Gail Greth for sentencing.
“It was very emotional (participating in Operation Arrive Alive) but it was all worth it if we can help save one life,” said Michele Moyer, Kailen’s mother.
“You just never think you’re going to be in that situation. Even though it’s not real, at moments you almost think it is, and it was extremely difficult,” said Brian Moyer, Kailen’s father.
Kailen hopes that students think back to this experience and don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive. Sitting in a car from a real DUI crash, “It was so real, because I’ve never been in a crash before and it just hit home.”
Her friends cried during the video and later hugged her parents during the mock memorial.
“I hope that if we save just one life it’ll be worth it, convince one child not to text and drive or not to drink and drive,” said Raine Fussner, Sakira’s mother.
“We made an impact on these young adults,” said Jeff Fussner, Sakira’s father. A few students they know greeted the Fussner’s in the receiving line with tears in their eyes. “(We hope) this will have a lasting memory.”
Sakira said it was really good for the students to see the reality and consequences.
Snyder, the driver in the mock crash, said, “They need to know the truth behind what can happen and we want to bring light to the situation.”
Also during the assembly, KU sophomore Krista Schauder, 20, from Boyertown, spoke about her experience of undergoing sobriety tests on a busy weekend night on Kutztown’s Main Street in December. The honors student-athlete talked about being arrested for DUI and the consequences that followed.
“My one hope is that by listening to my story, it will make you all think,” said Krista, asking them to think before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Her mother Marie hopes Kutztown students “think before they get in a car. Don’t drink and drive. Take one pause, and think ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this.’”
“Be smart and stay safe,” said Marie.
Kutztown School District Nurse Brenda Loeb, program organizer, concluded the program telling students that she sees opportunity.
“Opportunity for success in each and every one of you, but the bottom line is what you do with the opportunities you are presented with is up to you and you alone,” said Loeb. “Operation Arrive Alive was created to remind you how important it is to always drive responsibly every time you get behind the wheel.”
“Remember, life is about choice and consequence. Always make good choices,” said Loeb.
Kutztown High School Principal Barry Flicker ask students to “be smart, make good choices, realize that your actions have consequences.”