Sirens blared. Emergency vehicles responded. A father was despondent. A teenager could barely stand up straight.
These are scenes that typically follow a drunk driving death.
Fortunately, at East Ridge High School on Thursday, it was merely a mock up to remind students of the dangers of drinking and driving as they get ready for this weekend’s prom.
The event included a fake 911 call, student actors with makeup of injuries and several emergency vehicles. And two hearses.
“It’s just something that I hope will have an impact,” said Tom Ehrenberg, the school resource officer at East Ridge who spearheaded the program. “Our goal is to reach a few (students) and if we can stop just one accident, I would be happy.”
As students gathered on a hill near a parking lot, they saw a large blue tarp covering two smashed up vehicles. When the tarp was removed, smoke billowed from the scene and emergency vehicles responded. Two student actors had white sheets laid over them as they were carted away by Wulff Woodbury Funeral Home officials.
Ehrenberg said it was similar to what would actually happen at a real crash—only the time was condensed.
“Obviously, the point is to make kids aware of the consequences of drinking and driving,” he said.
Billy Stout played the drunk driver. He said he researched videos of drunks on online for his role in the crash. (He actually played a man at a bar during a previous East Ridge production of Beauty and the Beast.)
“It was a huge message to everyone,” Stout said. “Hearing the students as soon as the tarp flew off the car, that got to me—it gave me chills, and it wasn’t just the cold.”
Following the event, the students headed inside, where two speakers were waiting—one the victim of a drunk driving crash. The other was the drunk driver.
Eherenberg and Stout both said drinking is no more an issue at East Ridge than any other high school. Stout said he isn’t a member of the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group.
“I just might join after this,” he said.
For a video from the event, click here.