“Every 15 minutes someone dies as the result of an alcohol-related collision.” “Every five minutes someone is injured as the result of an alcohol-related collision.” These were lessons the students and faculty at Emery High learned yesterday in a unique and powerful way.
The Emery County Sheriff’s Department and Four Corners Community Behavioral Health, as well as many other agencies, joined together to stage a gruesome traffic accident in the south parking lot at Emery High School to drive home the consequences of drunk driving. “I don’t think people actually understand that there are always consequences to their actions,” explained Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk. “Everyone thinks that they’re going to live forever.”
The staged accident, combined with “dead” students being taken from class every 15 minutes, students being “injured’ every five minutes, and an assembly featuring a “trial” of the driver, a funeral for a “deceased” student, and a genuine testimonial from the parents of a 5-year-old killed by a drunk driver, clearly made an impression on many.
“I hope we had a great impact on the students,” said Funk. “I saw a lot of people brushing tears away.”
It was a lesson that many local agencies believed was important enough to spend hours preparing for and staging the event, including the sheriff’s department, Four Corners, University of Utah AirMed, Emery Medical Clinic, Castleview Hospital, Emery County School District, Ward’s 4X4, Utah Highway Patrol, Emery County Fire District, Emery County Ambulance Service, Fausett Mortuary, Emery County Search and Rescue, Castle Dale City, and Emery County Water Conservancy District. The main organizers of the event were Deputy Shaun Bell, a drug court officer for the sheriff’s department, and Lorie Huntington from Four Corners.
The morning began with students seated on bleachers in the parking lot to witness the aftermath of the staged driving accident. One student lay on the hood of one of two cars brought in by Ward’s 4X4, clearly having been thrown through the windshield of the car she was driving. Two other students in the same car were trapped and had to be freed by the “jaws of life”. In all, seven students were made to look as if they had received varying degrees of injuries, including the drunk driver, who went through a battery of sobriety tests and was arrested and booked into the Emery County Jail for the day.
The students involved in the staged accident were Clay Collard, Brinne Dawes, Spencer Fehlberg, Dawson Jensen, Marqui Moss, Kim Oldroyd and Kalin Reynolds.
For these students, it was a profound experience. Dawes, the driver thrown through the window, was declared dead at the scene, taken off in a body bag by Fausett Mortuary, and listened as her obituary was read during the “funeral”. She hoped it had an affect on her fellow students. “I hope that people took it in a serious way, and realized it could happen to them,” she said. “I learned that we all have our agency, and if people use it wrong, others can really be affected.”