With tears in their eyes, Woodbury High School students hugged and supported each other Friday afternoon after two of their classmates were driven away in hearses.
Fortunately, it was merely part of a mock car crash put on by student groups and the Woodbury Public Safety Department a week before prom.
But the impact of the program—which portrayed a drunken student getting into a deadly two-car crash that also injured several others—was clearly felt. And that’s the intent, according to Public Safety Chief Lee Vague.
“We think this is really worthwhile—that the students think about the consequences of their actions,” he said.
The Woodbury High School prom is April 21, and students from the school’s SADD group, along with staff, helped organize the mock car crash.
“Our ultimate goal is to prevent these kinds of things from happening,” Vague said.
“It conveys a great message to everyone,” said Ryan Dupay, 16, a member of Woodbury’s SADD group.
One of the student actors was put through field sobriety tests and taken away in handcuffs. Other students were placed on stretchers and transported to waiting ambulances.
Vague said the mock crash mirrors what actually happens at such incidents—only the timeframe is compressed.
“By the end, it really sinks in,” he said. “It’s pretty dramatic. It’s pretty emotional.”
Vague has a daughter at Woodbury High School who will be attending prom this year. While he said Woodbury is “not unique” in terms of drinking and driving among students, it’s up to parents to help keep their kids safe.
“You give them basic information so they can make good decisions for themselves,” Vague said.
Among the student actors was Tyler Dabney, 17, a member of the school’s SADD group, which has organized other initiatives aimed at keeping students safe on the roads. Before this year’s homecoming they placed red ribbons on cars in the parking lot to warn against drinking and driving, and earlier this year police came to the school and removed from classrooms students who were “killed” by a drunk driver, he said.
Still, the students need to police themselves, Dupay said.
“Kids just have to be smart and not drink and drive. It needs to stop,” he said.