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Mock crash serves as real reminder of dangers of drunken driving

Sirens were wailing and lights were flashing. Police cars, an ambulance and fire truck rapidly and efficiently converged on the scene of a two-car accident outside a Wisconsin high school.

The accident was staged by the police department and first responders to show students how easily life can come to an abrupt end or be changed forever for the worse by a crash caused by a drunk driver.

In the mock crash, eight students at a high school about 250 miles to the east of La Crosse were in a prom-night accident caused when a car driven by a drunk student slammed into another vehicle.

As firefighters worked furiously to free a student trapped inside a car, law enforcement officers began their investigation by asking the driver of the other car if he'd been drinking. He denied having consumed alcohol, but officers said they could smell it on him. He then conceded he'd "had a few, but I thought I was fine."

He was then given a field sobriety test. After failing it, handcuffs were placed on him and he was told he was under arrest for seven felonies, including homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and six counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

At that moment, students watching the scene heard the familiar chopping sound of a helicopter. Looking up, they saw a medical helicopter descending to the parking lot. An injured student was quickly loaded and the copter took off again.

Then a worried father arrived, looking for his son. The man would later be told that his boy hadn't survived the crash.

That afternoon, the high school students saw the logical conclusion of the mock crash: a mock funeral for a student whose young life had come to an abrupt, premature end, and the sentencing of another student to prison for his negligent disregard for life and reckless behavior.

A harsh lesson? Maybe so. But it's one much better learned in a simulation than played out in real life.

Source: htrnews: "Mock crash at Two Rivers High School results in 'fatality'" by Cindy Hodgson: April 30, 2011

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