By Amantha Garpiel
PIQUA — Real tears were shed during the Piqua High School and Premier Health CareFlight Drive Smart Program’s mock crash for juniors and seniors before prom weekend.
With the help of Premier Health, Piqua Police Department, Piqua Fire Department and Jamieson & Yanucci Funeral Home, Piqua High School held a mock crash on Thursday, May 4, to simulate a crash involving an impaired driver. The cars used in the mock crash were provided and transported by Dick Lumpkin’s Auto Body. The goal was to inform juniors and seniors about the dangers of driving under the influence so they will make safe decisions during prom weekend.
Juniors and seniors were brought out of of school to witness the mock crash, narrated by Brian Bates from Premier Health CareFlight, and acted out by juniors and seniors Mason Swallow, the drunk driver; Brady Stahl, the sober driver; Savannah Cox, a deceased passenger; Trista Boeke, an injured passenger; and Zoe Leasure and Zach Shedd, as witnesses.
In the age group of juniors and seniors, the number one cause of death, according to Bates, is impaired motor vehicle crashes. The presentation was meant to highlight the theme of choices, to show the dangers of drinking and driving, and the importance of wearing a seat belt.
“This is not to scare you, this is not to tell you what will happen to you. This is to kind of show you a glimpse of what could potentially may happen and has happened to others in the community and maybe to someone you know,” said Bates at the beginning of the simulation.
The mock crash included real response times of police and EMS personnel. The two students acting as witnesses, Leasure and Shedd, were frantic and in tears as they attempted to relay information to dispatchers. Officers responded to the scene and immediately began assessing the students acting as victims. They discovered Savannah Cox, who was portraying a crash victim who had been thrown through the windshield in the “crash,” had broken her neck, severing her spinal cord and was paralyzed and lost the ability to breath. She was pronounced dead upon the arrival of paramedics.
“I want you to think about the last time you saw her; was she smiling. Did you share a laugh? What was your conversation?” said Bates. “With that being said, that was the last time you ever get to see or talk to Savannah.”
Officers quickly assessed the mock injuries of the others involved until the fire department and paramedics arrived on scene. As they arrived, officers began conducting a field sobriety test on Swallow, who failed the simulated test and was placed under arrest. One passenger, Boeke, was taken by paramedics via ambulance to a local hospital. Stahl, who portrayed the sober driver, who sustained internal injuries, was transported from the scene via CareFlight. Lastly, Jamieson & Yanucci Funeral Home arrived on the scene to transport the body of Cox to the funeral home.
After the mock crash simulation ended, Laura Seger shared the story of how she lost her son, Joey, in a crash caused by an impaired driver in 2010. Joey had been a senior at Piqua High School and so Seger attended the mock crash at Piqua High School to hopefully help the juniors and seniors attending to understand the consequences of impaired driving. She shared how heartbreaking it was to have to plan Joey’s funeral as opposed to preparing for college visits, prom and senior pictures.
“I didn’t get to go to the scene to say goodbye, I didn’t get to go to the hospital to say goodbye. Joey was gone,” said Seger. “Crashes happen and life goes on and that’s true. But for those of us left behind, it’s never the same. I’ll be a grieving mother until the day I die, because there’s no getting over the loss of a child. There’s no getting over the loss of you.”
“I come out and share Joey’s story because you guys matter,” said Seger. “I want everyone to go to prom this weekend and on Monday come back to school and share those memories. I don’t want an empty chair. I don’t want anyone in here to become a memory like my Joey.”