Fake accident gives real lesson

One person arrested, two people dead and dozens, if not hundreds of lives were changed forever.

Central Kitsap High School seniors were witnesses to what could happen if they get drunk and get behind the wheel of a car. The second annual Mock Crash event, sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was Tuesday in preparation for tonight’s senior prom.

In this case, the “drunk driver” didn’t go to jail. Two of his classmates weren’t really dead and the coroner didn’t have to drop devastating news on someone’s doorstep.

Event organizers hope hundreds of minds were changed and dozens of lives are saved because of the pretend crash.

“It really makes a difference. It’s better than writing tickets to people or scraping bodies up off the highway,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.

“I hope you enjoy this, but you don’t like it,” Boyer told the nearly 400 seniors.

At Tuesday’s crash students heard a frantic 911 call and blue tarps were pulled off two demolished cars. A sedan collided with a mini van, both were filled with prom-goers.

Stephanie Parks, a senior, screamed hysterically as her date, the “drunk driver” got out and surveyed the damage. Both were covered in stage blood.

Parks was later strapped to a backboard and placed in an aid unit.

“It felt real,” Parks said after the demonstration was over.

Reith Walls, who portrayed the perpetrator, was “arrested” on two counts of vehicular homicide.

“It was interesting. I’ve never had alcohol in my life,” he said. He called the experience unsettling and said he was chosen for the role because “I’m the last person anyone would think of,” when it came to drunk driving.

Seconds later a Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue engine and aid unit drove up to the scene. State Patrol and Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies followed.

Four other prom goers in the mini van did not fare as well. The crushed van was on its side. One victim was hanging out the van’s window. Another was trapped for several minutes as firefighters worked to free her. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

“It was scary lying in the coroner’s van. People really lie there in silence — they’re done,” said Tyson Hicks. Firefighters pulled him from the wrecked mini van’s window and pretended to perform CPR. The coroner’s office was called. Hicks was wrapped in plastic, placed in a body bag and slid into the coroner’s van.

“It was shocking,” said John Winsper who was one of the “seriously injured” students. He saw the mock crash last year, but participating in it was far more intense.

“It hurts,” he said.

Deputy Russ Clithero narrated the sequence of events. First, law enforcement determined who the driver was. Because officers suspected alcohol was a factor, field sobriety tests are given. Although a suspect can refuse a breath test, if they are arrested for vehicular homicide a blood test is mandatory.

Last year Kitsap County deputies responded to 20 fatal or serious-injury crashes.

“I would say about 90 percent of them involved alcohol,” Clithero said.

School officials said there were no alcohol issues at last year’s prom.

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