Mock crash sends real message to CKHS teens

Below, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue arrives at the scene of the mock crash. - Steven DeDual/staff photos
Below, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue arrives at the scene of the mock crash.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photos

Screams of pain and loss filled the air Tuesday morning at Central Kitsap High School (CKHS) during the annual mock crash designed to introduce students to the real horrors of drinking and driving.

The program was introduced to the area by the Kitsap County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) 13 years ago and is a collaborative effort between MADD, Washington State Patrol (WSP), the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the Center for Communication (CENCOM), Silverdale Towing, Airlift Northwest, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue (CKFR) and the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office.

The event takes the audience through the scene of a motor vehicle crash where a fatality has occurred. The persons involved are all teens leaving a party after prom where there was drinking of alcohol by students. One of the students is actually airlifted from the school grounds by Airlift Northwest while others are treated in CKFR ambulances. Fatalities also are portrayed and one student is arrested for driving under the influence.

CKHS student and mock crash participant Katie Jackson said that although participation in the event was not mandatory, she decided it was a good idea.

“I had the option not to do it, but I really wanted to,” she said.

Jackson also said the event was successful in its attempt to inform the students about the dangers of drunk driving.

“I was looking up into the stands and almost everyone was in tears,” she said. “Actually participating in it made it even more real for me.”

Fellow mock crash actor and classmate Howard McDonald said the school chooses students who are well known to take part in the event.

“The counselors selected a certain group of students that they thought would impact the school,” he said. “They chose people who participate in activities and get involved in school functions.”

Allie Rue, also a mock crash player and CKHS student, saw the significance of getting involved.

“I realize that it is really important,” she said. “If I can make an impact on people because they know me, it will be worth it.”

Jeff Davis, one of three volunteer chaplains with CKFR, agrees the event does impact the audience of high school students.

“You can tell by just looking at the audience that this makes a huge impact,” he said.

CKFR spokeswoman Theresa MacLennan said the mock crash is very realistic in mirroring drunk driving accident scenes.

“I do believe (the event) has a positive impact on the students,” she said. “The way the makeup artists do their job and the way we come in and do our job is very realistic.”

Kitsap County MADD Chapter President Marsha Masters said the program has worked to reduce drunk driving incidents in teens, but the lesson is not sticking.

“What we are finding is that kids are making good choices currently,” she said. “What we are having the trouble with is that when they get to be 23 or 24 they tend to forget what they learned. That is why we want to make an impact not just today, but for years down the road.”

Masters said the fire departments and police agencies are very supportive of the program as well.

“They would rather come out and practice these hundreds of times in a practice situation than to go out to a real crash scene,” she said.

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