Twin Valley High staged its annual Mock Car Crash May 8 after student support demanded the program be returned after having been dropped from last year’s activities.
Working in conjunction with the Caernarvon Township Police Department, the Twin Valley and Honey Brook Fire Departments and Elverson EMS, the high school staged the after events of a fatal crash involving teen victims.
Caernarvon Twp. Police Officer Kyle Tranovich welcomes the seniors and explains what they are about to view is as close to the real thing as it gets. He then calls in a crash on his radio and within minutes the lower parking lot of the high school becomes the scene of tragedy.
Quietly, the seniors sit on the lawn and listen to the sounds of beer cans rolling across the pavement. In the distance the sound of sirens breaks and splits the air and the moment develops a hair raising sense of eeriness. Lying beside an overturned jeep is the body of a deceased student who has been thrown from the vehicle, his friend is still trapped inside.
Not far from the body, three more victims, bleeding and injured, sit inside a small sedan waiting for help to arrive. As the fire trucks and ambulance arrive on the scene, the driver of the small vehicle is removed from the car for questioning as his friends are braced and carted off to awaiting ambulances.
Fire fighters cover the body of the fatally injured student actor Nick Baylis who has had his face covered in white and blue make-up to deepen the impression of fatality on the crowd. Following the event Baylis talks about the moment during which the sheet was laid over his body.
“I happen to open my eyes for a moment as the fire fighters were covering my body with the sheet. It was a strange feeling laying there pretending to be dead, staring up at all of them. It was so loud and I couldn’t see anything, it really made me think.”
Next came the deafening sound of a churning generator used to power the Jaws of Life needed to cut off the jeep’s top to rescue the final victim. The sound of cracking glass and popping metal sent shivers down the spine. A mock crash but the feelings it produced in the crowd and student actors was very real.
Later, following the demonstration, each of the student actors was asked to remark on the emotions and feelings they had while participating in the crash. Each spoke of a sense of helplessness and even regret knowing they had been responsible for the loss of a friend’s life.
“As the police were questioning me, I kept thinking, look what I’ve done. This is my fault,” said Ryan Lawler.
Students then were educated on the dangers of drinking and driving but were assured for as bad as drinking and driving are, the leading risk facing young people operating motor vehicles is quickly becoming texting while driving.
“There is no text worth your life. If the text you are getting or are about to send is that important, pull over first. What you saw here today is exactly how it looks in real life, only the victims don’t get up and walk away,” said Officer Tranovich.
For the week prior to the event and for a week following the mock crash, students are again reminded of the serious nature of operating a motor vehicle when coming to and from school as a mangled and destroyed car totaled in a DUI crash greets them at the entrance to the school for a full two weeks. Posted in front of the wreck is a sign that reads, “Don’t drink and drive.”
The school would like to thank all participating law enforcement and emergency service teams who make the event a priority and would like to pay special thanks to Travis and Holly Stacey, owner and operators of Stacey’s Towing Company who every year supply, deliver and remove the vehicles used for the mock crash demonstration.