Mock crash sends message

by Nathan Warner
Contributing writer

A mock crash “collided” with students at Zimmerman High School May 17 in the parking lot behind the school.

Students contemplated how quickly life can be over during a mock crash, as classmate Kileen Ewy played dead. Photo by Nathan Warner

Two damaged cars provided by Collins Brothers Towing added to the drama. One was damaged upon impact with another vehicle and another had been in a rollover. The nearly 100 11th- and 10th-graders in the audience reacted soberly to the scene, as the surviving “passengers” made up with fake blood stumbled around the debris, screaming for help over the bodies of their “dead” friends while waiting for emergency vehicles to arrive.

It was noted that emergency vehicles do not arrive on scene immediately and sometimes take up to 15 minutes to arrive, depending on where an accident is located.

Deputy Jeff Baker and Capt. Don Starry arrived at the scene first and did what they could for the passengers still trapped in the cars, until the fire department arrived and was able to cut them out of the vehicles and remove them to ambulances.

Driver Sylvia Michels crawls out of her car immediately following the accident that “killed” two people.

Zimmerman student Sylvia Michels played the part of a distracted, texting driver who caused the mock crash that “killed” two passengers not wearing their seat belts, students Kileen Ewy and Chloe Holland, and “injured” passengers Emily Garmen, Anna Huss, Alexis Wiemeri and Evan Bye.

Michels was “arrested” for criminal vehicular homicide and injury for causing the accident, while a LifeLink III helicopter landed next to the accident and airlifted a “severely injured” Evan Bye, sending dirt and debris flying into the crowd.

The mock crash event was planned and organized by Sherburne County Investigator/Zimmerman Schools’ Liaison Renee Brandt and was sponsored by Zimmerman Safe Schools, Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, Zimmerman-Livonia Fire Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Sherburne County Health and Human Services, North Memorial Ambulance, LifeLink III, Dare’s Funeral Home, and Angeno’s Pizza.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States, and Principal Marco Voce said that with the upcoming graduation and summer months, the goal of the event was to help teens make safer choices when driving.

After the event, the emergency response teams reconvened with students in the gym to encourage their message of safety and responsibility while operating motor vehicles.

Drivers were urged to:

•Pay attention while driving.

•Don’t drink and drive, obey all traffic laws.

•Adjust speed for weather, traffic and road conditions.

•Always wear a seat belt.

Starry told students that he and the other emergency personnel see crash events like the one depicted all too often, and he hoped they’d take time to handle distractions safely while driving.

“If you absolutely have to make a phone call or send a text, do so before you turn your car on, or pull over if you’re already driving,” he said, adding that no phone call, text, or distraction was worth risking the lives of others. “You are responsible for the lives of the people inside your vehicle if you are driving,” Starry said, “and remember that distractions can be more than cell phones, iPods, or CDs — they can be issues at home, a break-up with a significant other, or anything that impairs your focus on the road and your environment.”