This is what it could look like if you were in a drunk driving accident.
Our Conrad High School Literary Arts class along with the Pondera Medical Center in cooperation with the Conrad Police, Fire and Rescue services put the fear of death into the kids in our town.
The Literary Arts class filmed a short video of a “typical drunken party” Sunday night. On Thursday the school held an assembly to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving. During this video they heard screams and a crash. The entire high school filed out to the old tennis court that sits behind the school to find this wreck. They stared in silence at the scene where their bloodied friends lay in a crumple of metal. I have never seen a group so large be so quiet.
The scene continued as the driver awakened to find that he had crashed. He tired to wake up his friends some were unconscious some were shaken and injured but alright enough to walk. Two were dead.
One girl had been thrown from the back of the pick-up and was laying about
30 ft away from the wreck. Of the three girls left in the back of the pick-up two had minor wounds and the third was hurt pretty bad and nearly unconscious. The passenger of the pick-up was suffering from internal injuries that led to his death. The driver of the car was killed onimpact. His passenger was badly injured.
“What did you do! Were you drunk?” The brother of the pick-up passenger raced out of the crowd and started yelling at the driver. He began to fight with the driver only to be stopped by the panicked shrieks from one of the girls that had been in the back of the pick-up.
Another vehicle came racing up. It was the other kids from the party. One called 911. They put it on speaker so that everyone could hear the conversation between the dispatcher and the girl who was nearly in hysterics. (It had been arranged with the 911 dispatch that this training call would take place. They treated it as if it were real.)
The sirens went off across town. Soon two ambulances, a fire truck and three police car came screeching up to the crash. They were quick to manage the scene. The witnesses and the other kids involved were separated out and the injured were lifted out and strapped to gurneys then wheeled away to be taken to the hospital. The Jaws of Life were used to pry the door off the car so they could reach the body of the boy in the car. The dead kids were covered with sheets. The police interviewed the witnesses and put the driver through a road side sobriety test. He was then handcuffed and led away.
The audience of high school students were still dead silent. There was no elbowing each other and joking. There was no whispering or looking at their phones. They just stared. I didn’t blame them. It was intense. I had helped set it up and when I saw them loading my daughter (she’s the one on the tailgate) onto that gurney-my stomach clenched and tears burned behind my eyes. All I could see from where I was standing was her Converse tennis shoes hanging off the side of the tailgate surrounded by firemen and medics. That image out of everything we did that day was burned into my mind. It was so real. All I wanted to do was to run to the ambulance and be with her. It was not something that will be easily forgotten for any of the school.
The students were then ushered back into the school where they had set up a trial. Complete with Judge and Attorney. The driver of the pick-up escorted in by the police in full prison garb and was charged then sentenced. They followed the sentencing with a discussion about the laws and the repercussions of the choice to drink and drive.
Then there was a funeral service for the three students that had died in the wreck. They read obituaries that has been written by their classmates. The student then filed by a coffin containing a mirror so they could see themselves in the coffin and know that it could have been them. After that there was workshop about grief and regrets.
They ended the day with an assembly with speakers telling about their experiences with drinking and driving. The Literary Arts class sat up on the stage and answered questions from the student body about their experiences during the project and what they learned. It was unanimous -the kids who had staged the accident for the school all agreed that they would never drink and drive. They were truly disturbed by what they had gone through even though it had all been fake.
My daughter said that she started to have a panic attack when they were strapping her to the gurney as she heard all the screaming and crying around her. Another student who had been filming the project said that she had a moment where she realized that these were her friends and they were dead. She said she never ever ever wanted to see that in real life or feel that way again.
The next day the kids were talking about the Ghost Out on Yik Yak (a social media app where posts are anonymous). There were a lot of posts about kids wanting to make some changes. So I think that the project has had the desired reaction amongst the students.
All in all the day was horrifying and intense but it was an awesome day.
The morning started out with two dozen donuts brought by yours truly.
They didn’t last long. Nothing combats nerves like food. Later two gigantic boxes of pizza turned up and a couple of trays of sub-sandwiches joined the group.
It was funny to watch them try and eat around the fake blood dripping from their faces. They were all good sports about it. Although one poor girl couldn’t stand the smell for the fake blood so we had to put some strong smelling chap stick under her nose.
I had been asked to help out along with some of the other parents and teachers. I was one of the make-up artists who had bruised and bloodied all these kids up. I have a Theatre degree and have done a bit of make-up before but nothing on this scale. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to get some ideas. It was a learning experience for me as well as the kids.
Fake scars and bruise make up were followed by red food dyed chocolate syrup blood making for some really gruesome wounds.
Some kids had issues with their glass shards falling out of their wounds and we had to reapply their wounds over and over again.
The death scenes were staged to be particularly shocking but were a little difficult because some local wasps decided they liked the smell of the fake blood.
By the end of the day, the kids had consumed a ton of pizza, sub-sandwiches and a lot of soda. They had been grossed out and shocked by their own reflections and they leaned a lot about making the right choices. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.