With this week being spring break and prom season quickly approaching, students may take the opportunity to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car.
Megan Weldon, community sales representative at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and Paulding sheriff’s Deputy Brian Fitzgerald, resource officer at South Paulding High School, worked together to plan a mock car crash to deter students from making a potentially fatal choice.
“We [Liberty Mutual] try to do this around the country when prom season comes up,” Weldon said.
Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death of 15- to 20-year-olds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Fitzgerald has been a resource officer for 11 years and organized a mock car crash once before when he worked at East Paulding High School.
Weldon asked if he would help plan one for this year, Fitzgerald said, and they got the event approved by Principal Keith Rowland.
The event was staged in a front parking lot of the school, and demonstrated the results of one car driven by a drunk driver striking another car in the side.
The scene started with the sound of an operator calling for police, ambulance and fire rescue personnel to make there way to the accident.
Students were covered in fake blood and some acted as if they had been killed in the crash.
Then the first responders made their way to the mock crash with sirens and lights on, which created a powerful image.
“We want to try and make an impact on our students,” Rowland said.
Once the responders arrived they demonstrated what would happen at the scene of an accident by checking victims’ vital signs, questioning those involved and even covering those who had “died” with white clothes.
“It is fresh in their minds before they leave for spring break,” Fitzgerald said.
The event was kept a secret from junior and senior students before they saw it.
There was support from different groups in the community including South Paulding drama students; Paulding County Sheriff’s Office; Paulding County Fire Department; Georgia State Patrol; Clark Ambulance; S&S Towing and Eberhart Funeral Home.
Students now have the knowledge of what could happen to them if they make the choice, Fitzgerald said.
“[Drinking and driving is] like Russian roulette with a 5,000-pound vehicle,” Fitzgerald said.