June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Mock crash offers graphic warning

Maria Kacik | The Gazette

GRANGER TWP. — A boy in his tux and a girl in her prom gown slumped behind the wheel of a crumpled sedan.

Their two friends — another couple supposedly on their way to prom — were trapped in the back seat.

Soon, an emergency helicopter would come for one, a body bag would come for two of them, and a police cruiser would come for the last — the driver who was drunk.

It was all a skit performed for juniors and seniors at Highland High School on Friday morning, the day before the school’s senior prom — but there was nothing playful about it.

Highland’s Students Against Destructive Decisions arranged for several rescue squads and police agencies to come to the school to act out an accident caused by a drunken driver. Sharon, Granger and Hinckley township fire departments, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland MetroParks rangers and University Hospitals MedEvac helicopter crew “responded” to Friday’s crash.

Sheriff’s Sgt. S.A. Schmoll narrated the events as the students looked on.

“What we’re trying to tell you is your decisions affect more than just you. You have gotten older. You have more responsibilities. You’re driving a car, a two-ton automobile,” he told the students. “You need to think what decisions you’re going to make.”

The skit was soon over. The helicopter returned the “injured” student. The ones who “died” were able to exit their body bags. And the one who was driving — who was “arrested” for operating a vehicle while under the influence — was released from his handcuffs.

“It was an intense experience,” said the driver — Austin Zickler, a senior and a member of SADD. “I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before. And I definitely would not want it to happen again.

Stacey Kraethin, a senior and also a member of SADD, spent about a half hour in a body bag as one of the two victims who were “killed” in the crash.

“It was definitely a scary experience because you don’t know if that’s ever going to happen to you,” she said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.