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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 tonights senior prom.
In this case, the drunk driver didnt go to jail. Two of his classmates werent really dead and the coroner didnt have to drop devastating news on someones 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. Its 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 dont like it, Boyer told the nearly 400 seniors.
At Tuesdays 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. Ive never had alcohol in my life, he said. He called the experience unsettling and said he was chosen for the role because Im 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 Sheriffs 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 vans 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 coroners van. People really lie there in silence theyre done, said Tyson Hicks. Firefighters pulled him from the wrecked mini vans window and pretended to perform CPR. The coroners office was called. Hicks was wrapped in plastic, placed in a body bag and slid into the coroners 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 years prom.