Juniors and Seniors at Altmar-Parish-Williamstown High School were recent witnesses to a Mock DWI event at their high school, just days before their prom. The day’s event was a dramatization of something that happens at least 18 times each day – a teenager dies in a motor vehicle accident.
The scene began outside of the high school on County Route 22 where an accident had just occurred. As the students filed out of the high school and took their seats on bleachers placed along the highway, a 9-1-1 call was heard and responders began arriving.
The accident scene that lay out before the students included two young people lying on the highway, Brian Wilson, who was ejected from his vehicle and “killed” on impact, and Lacy Kowalski who suffered multiple wounds including a severed leg.
Kowalski had been walking across the street to the high school when she was struck by a car driven by Heather Wood, a junior at the school, who had been drinking and texting on her phone before the accident occurred.
After the car hit Kowalski, it crossed the center line and collided head-on with a car driven by junior Alayna Perkins. Wilson had been a passenger in Perkins’ car before being thrown through the windshield onto the roadway. Other “victims” were also in the two vehicles as passengers.
The accident scene depicted the devastation and trauma that can occur in an accident and volunteers and representatives from the school and Oswego County Stop DWI, used make-up, props and gallons of fake blood, to add a believable reality to the accident scene.
As the scene continued to unfolded, Wood staggered out of her vehicle and from the beer cans and her behavior, it was obvious that she had been drinking.
New York State Police Trooper Scott Kedenburg acted as narrator for the event.
He explained to students what was happening as emergency crews worked in several areas at the same time, and as different agencies responded to the emergency call.
The emergency response teams worked together to assist the victims of the crash. The Mock DWI event outside the school portrayed the accident scene, emergency response, transport of medical emergencies, and removal of the body by the funeral home.
The students then moved inside the school to the auditorium where they witnessed the notification of parents, the arraignment of the drunk driver and finally, the funeral. APW High School Principal Jamie Coppola; Robert Lighthall, Oswego County STOP DWI coordinator; and Tracy Reynolds, a victim impact panel member spoke to the students about the dangers of drinking and driving. Reynolds’ daughter Samantha was killed by a drunk driver in 2008 on her way to Disney with her father on a family vacation.
She would have graduated from APW last year.
Reynolds urged the students to remember the consequences that can occur and asked the students to be safe and make the right choices during prom time and all year long.
The dramatic and realistic “funeral” for Brian Wilson included family members and friends from the school who spoke about their loss.
The participants were very convincing and gave audience members an opportunity to view the devastating impact that a decision to drink and drive can have in a person’s life.
Beth Dunham, coordinator of the Mock DWI, worked closely with many local, county and state agencies to send this vital message to Juniors and Seniors at the school: “Don’t drink and drive.”
The high school holds the Mock DWI event every other year for juniors and seniors at the school in the days preceding the prom.