October 25, 2014

Medina
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High school students shown dangers of prom night drinking and driving

Cloverleaf High School student Nicole Rhodes is rescued using the Jaws of Life by a Westfield Fire and Rescue officer during a simulation Tuesday on the dangers of drinking and driving. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Cloverleaf High School student Nicole Rhodes is rescued using the Jaws of Life by a Westfield Fire and Rescue officer during a simulation Tuesday on the dangers of drinking and driving. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Juniors and seniors at Cloverleaf High School got a firsthand look Tuesday at the tragic results of drinking and driving.

In preparation for Saturday’s prom, students gathered in the gymnasium just after school started where Medina county sheriff’s Deputy Dave Pries briefed them on what was going to happen during the simulation. Six of their fellow schoolmates were involved in a serious accident and rescue teams were going to be working hard to save their lives.

“Take out of this what you want,” he told the students.

Westfield Fire and Rescue officers lift Cloverleaf High student Jack Gerber from a Ford Mustang during a simulation Tuesday on the dangers of drinking and driving. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Westfield Fire and Rescue officers lift Cloverleaf High student Jack Gerber from a Ford Mustang during a simulation Tuesday on the dangers of drinking and driving. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Westfield Fire and Rescue Safety Officer Kevin Rych, who has coordinated the event for the past four years, said he believes education is the first of many steps.

“If we can get one person to not drink or drive or tell some to not drink or drive, the whole event was worth it,” he said.

The scene outside the Westfield Township school looked real. One student actor was flung onto a windshield of an Audi; she was not moving and had no signs of life. Three others were trapped inside a white Ford Mustang and appeared to be severely injured.

Fire and rescue crews from Westfield, Lafayette, Seville, Chatham and Lodi, as well as the Ohio Highway Patrol tirelessly began trying to rescue the victims as if it was the real deal.

Westfield Fire and Rescue had to pull out the Jaws of Life in order to save a victim trapped in the back seat of the Mustang.

Across the lawn another student actor, the only one who had been drinking in the simulation, was put into handcuffs by a patrol trooper after he failed his field sobriety test.

After each actor was rescued, students were escorted to the football field where they were put into groups and given presentations on what happens after a fatal crash.

First responders talked about the scenes of accidents and hospital workers went through emergency room procedures.

Chris Waite from Waite & Son Funeral Homes was on hand with a casket, talking to students about the funerary process. Magistrate Susana Lewis warned students about the consequences of drinking and driving.

“As a law enforcement officer you’ve seen this and know the impact, sharing with young people is an important aspect of the job,” Pries said. “If we start here with education, maybe we can reduce this a little bit.”

After visiting each station, students returned to the gym to hear a speech from Kathy Carlton, whose son, Nicholas Carlton, died because of drinking and driving the day of Cloverleaf’s prom in 2002.

“I want other kids to see that the choices they make in their life don’t stop at them; they affect everyone,” she said. “One bad choice ended my son’s life and the same could happen to theirs.”

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @adavisreports.