Photos and story by Hannah Richardson, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s prom night and a group of close friends are having the time of their lives. The high school students are excited to have fun with their friends and look forward to their transition into adulthood after their approaching graduation. But all of that is cut short when an alcohol related car accident results in tragedy.
Students at Natchitoches Central High School saw the realities of what happens during an alcohol related car crash Thursday, April 5 during a mock crash in the school’s parking lot. Presented by the NCHS School Based Health Center and coordinated by Robin Guillory, students saw the process of what happens during this scenario: the wreckage causing serious injuries to the participants, witnesses/friends coming to help and becoming distraught at the sight, the drunk driver being arrested, those injured being carried away by ambulances and air-lifted, first responders cutting open the car doors and family members of one of the deceased victims grieving.
Unfortunately, this is a scene first responders see quite often, especially around this time of year when schools have their proms. NRMC EMS Supervisor Larry Atteridge said they see tragedy day in and day out. “No one has the right to destroy another life,” said Atteridge. He told students it was up to them to make informed decisions and those that lose their lives to situations like the one presented in the mock crash, their families’ lives will be affected by the tragedy forever. Fire Chief John Wynn also spoke to the upperclassmen. He made a point that in situations like this, those students had no idea what would happen when they woke up that morning. Only you can choose your actions, and Wynn told the students he wants them to make the right decisions on prom night, which was Saturday for NCHS students.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. In 2016, young drivers 16-24 made up 39 percent of drivers involved in fatal alcohol-impaired crashes.
The student actors were Azaria Washington, Jayden Durr, Rhegan Hymes, Mariah Bayonne, Jaden Roberson, Emily Bumgardener, Shamarr Rice, Ladacia Bolton, Deronique Slater and Glory Deaton. Those playing the parents were Noershe Foster and Easter Bradley.
Participating first responders were the Natchitoches Police Department, Natchitoches Fire Department, Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS and Pafford Air One. Cedar’s Towing and Wholesale Unlimited have donated, delivered and arranged demolished cars for these events since the Mock Crash began at both NCHS and Lakeview High School about 10-15 years ago. Ciera Jenkins of the NSU Theatre Department and Larry Ross III of Dark Woods made the special effects as realistic as possible, to help give students a better understanding of how gruesome car accidents can be.