Mock crash depicts dangers of drunk driving
“Don’t you EVER do this!” she told each student. “I never want any of you to put your parents though this!”
Wood also had a role in the drama. She pretended to be a mother awakened in the middle of the night by her worst nightmare: Her son involved in a fatal two-car collision at Highway 47 and Merchant Road — represented, in this case, by the school track.
In the scenario, Jacob had been at a party with his friends. Though he had refused to drink, even when his friends mocked him, he got into a car with a drunk driver. When his drunken friend hit another vehicle, Jacob paid the ultimate price.
During the mock crash scenario, Jacob lay on the hood of one of the wrecked cars, gory makeup covering his face and arms.
Other student actors also wore fake blood as they waited for Yamhill and Carlton firefighters to help them out of the wreckage. Several were lifted onto backboards or gurneys and placed in waiting ambulances.
The pretend drunk driver, Trask VanArsdale, was makeup free as he wasn’t physically hurt in the crash. He swayed on the sidelines as a Carlton police officer administered a sobriety test, then placed him under arrest.
The driver once wanted to join the Marines and become an aviation mechanic. Instead, he would spent 10 years in prison, the narrator told Y-C High students watching intently from the grandstand.
And the driver himself told them about his real sentence: Living with the knowledge he’d killed his best friend.
A drunk driving crash — or one caused by reckless driving, drowsiness, drug use or inattention due to texting — doesn’t just hurt the people who are injured or killed, said Valerie Wilson, who arranged the event as part of her senior project.
“Your actions affect more than just you,” Wilson told her classmates during the program, called SKID — Stop Kids Impaired Driving. “What you do now will affect you later.”
Wilson, who volunteers with the Carlton Fire Department, attended a SKID program when she was a freshman at Y-C. It left a lasting impression on her.
To set up the program for her senior project, she contacted local fire and police departments, the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police and the SKID organization, which started in Washington County in 1998. She asked Gale’s Towing to haul in the wrecked cars.
She also put in many hours learning about lifesaving techniques, including extrication of victims from vehicles. “I really enjoy that,” she said, describing how firefighters use a special tool to cut cars open.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Joe Shipley, who recently transferred back to patrol following a stint on jail duty, recorded the narration that started the program. He said he’s been to thousands of alcohol-related crashes and seen many similar, but real, tragedies during his 22 years with the department.
Shipley and other emergency responders voluntarily participate in mock-crash scenarios, he said, because they want students to see what can happen and make good decisions instead of getting hurt.
He and several others repeated a key message to students: “Don’t drink. Don’t get into a car with someone who has been drinking. Don’t let friends drive drunk.”
Wilson, who plans to become a social worker working with children, asked some of her classmates to be actors in the drama. She chose those who are natural leaders in order to have the greatest impact on others, she said.
The actors were enthusiastic about the project.
Jacob Wood, for instance, said he agreed quickly. “I want to help kids and stop drunk driving,” he said.
His mother supported his efforts and agreed to help as well. But afterward, as students left the stadium, she was still shaking and wiping real tears from her eyes.
“That was horrible. It ripped my heart,” Judi Wood said, hugging Jacob an extra time, even though he was still covered in gory makeup.
Later, during an assembly, she told students that seeing a child killed is the worst thing a parent could experience. If they’re even in a situation like the one depicted in the scenario they’d just seen, she said, they need to call their parents for a ride — it’s not shameful to ask for help, she said.
“These are all my kids,” she said. “If I could stop one child from doing this, from making that bad decision, it was worth it.”