Mock Accident Drives Home Need To Drive Safely

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Lifestar Ambulance employee Paul Stabb holds a neck brace in place on mock accident driver and victim Ben Sandoval. The passenger in Sandoval’s car did not survive the accident.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Fire engineer and CEP Gary Lamken tends to the driver of a truck during the mock accident staged in the football parking lot at Payson High School.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

. High school teacher Wendell Stevens wore the Fatal Vision Goggles during a demonstration in the old gym to illustrate the effect alcohol has on one’s perception while under the influence. Stevens was required to hop on one leg and maintain his balance while navigating a course laid out by Michael Snively, deputy probation officer for Gila County.

The crypt creeper walked slowly around the scene of mangled cars. Two victims lay motionless in a passenger car and another in a truck. When firefighters and paramedics arrived on scene, the crypt creeper had already taken one life and another lay paralyzed.

The helicopter arrived on scene and air evacuated the injured away.

Although this scene was only a re-enactment and all of the injured were student actors, every year, motor vehicle crashes kill more American teenagers than anything else.

In 2007, 183 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in Arizona and during the past five years, Arizona crashes involving teen drivers claimed 1,044 lives.

On Wednesday, Payson High School’s student government organized a mock accident and a whole day of sobering activities to get students attention before they find themselves in a similar situation.

Nicole Scott, who played the crypt keeper, pulled students out of class throughout the day and delivered their death notice.

Later at an assembly, Kevin Brooks captured the attention of the entire student body with his real life tale.

When Brooks was 21, he drove drunk, crashed his car and ended up killing his passenger and paralyzing himself.

“I made a lot of poor choices,” Brooks said of his life and the night of the accident. “We can make a choice so fast and the consequences can last a lifetime.”

Read more about Brooks’ presentation in Tuesday’s Payson Roundup.

Brooks was able to speak at PHS through a $2,000 grant STUGO received from State Farm and the National Youth Leadership Council.

“This age group has more fatal accidents of any age group,” said Payson State Farm agent Debra Barber. “We would like to see those numbers go down.”

PHS’s One Choice, One Life — Think Before You Drive program was one of 25 projects selected nationwide to participate in the 2009-2010 Project Ignition program.

Shelly Camp, Project Ignition coordinator for PHS, said with the tragic death of a student and a teacher in the same year due to vehicle-related incidents, STUGO is striving to get the message out that safety is of the utmost importance.

“Payson High School is continuing to strive for safety among the teenage drivers in their rural town,” she said.

Besides the mock accident and assembly, students attended various workshops to illustrate how distracted and drunk driving ruins lives.

At one workshop, students and teachers donned goggles that simulated impaired driving and walked through various obstacles.

Although it was funny to watch people stepping over themselves, it illustrated that even simple tasks like walking, are affected by drinking.

Culinary arts and sewing teacher Devon Wells helped students sew seat belt pads. The pads make wearing a seat belt more comfortable, which may make students wear them more, Wells said.

STUGO students also created a public service announcement about texting while driving, which they played before the assembly.

In the PSA, a student is driving her car all the while texting to friends. Suddenly, she hits something and is thrown against the steering wheel.

The PSA asks students “is it worth it” to send that text message when you are driving, especially when every year nearly 7,000 young people are killed in motor vehicle accidents, some while texting?

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