Mock crash shows horrors of drinking and driving

By Thomas D'Agostino - ReminderNews
Thompson - posted Mon., May. 20, 2013
Firefighters, EMTs and state police frantically work to remove an injured passenger at the scene of the mock crash presented by Tourtellotte Memorial High School on May 16. Photos by Thomas D’Agostino.
Firefighters, EMTs and state police frantically work to remove an injured passenger at the scene of the mock crash presented by Tourtellotte Memorial High School on May 16. Photos by Thomas D’Agostino.

With prom season upon us, every parent is aware of the real danger of a driver who has been drinking. Every year there are an unnecessary number of accidents and, unfortunately, fatalities involving teens who drink alcohol and drive on their prom night.

To illustrate the importance of good decision-making, Tourtellotte Memorial High School hosted a mock crash on May 16 with firefighters, state police, EMTs, and even the funeral home of Gilman/Valade to take away the deceased.

Coordinator Justin Gendreau, firefighter/EMT and Connecticut State Police telecommunications supervisor, has held such a program for the last eight years. Gendreau stated that parents are encouraged to attend and in some cases, the students in attendance have opened a communicative relationship on the matter with the parents, creating a better understanding and agreement between the two.
Community Fire Company Chief James Seney stated that the re-enactment has been a success, as each season passes without any known incidents.

Retired Connecticut State Police Sergeant John Szamocki narrated the events that unfolded as two cars were staged as a head-on collision, where passengers - played by Patrick Quail, Ty Anderson, Ashley Gendreau, Nick Roy, Colyn Petre, Angela Burgess, Belle Mayo and Jake Eaton, all seniors at Tourtellotte Memorial High School - were thrown about the autos and through the windshields.

As the scene unfolded, Community Fire Department, and other departments from Quinebaug, East Thompson, Thompson Hill and West Thompson, arrived at the scene with Thompson Ambulances and American Ambulance and paramedics. State troopers, Major Crime personnel and even a police canine were on hand. All had volunteered their time and effort to educate students on the horrors that can and have resulted from drinking and driving.

Two passengers were declared dead at the scene, while the others, screaming in terror, were extracted from the automobiles with the Jaws of Life. The scene, though chaotic in appearance, was controlled and expertly handled by rescue crews. Szamocki mentioned that minutes seem like hours when a tragedy of such magnitude happens. Szamocki also mentioned that Thompson’s first responders are all volunteer, and are notified by alpha-numeric pager. The volunteers in turn must rush to the station and suit up before responding. This usually takes even more time, which is critical during an emergency. The driver ran from the scene but was tracked by the police canine and arrested.

Meanwhile, the family of one of the deceased were notified and on the scene to see their daughter being loaded into the hearse. When such a tragedy takes place, the police notify the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner then must call the funeral home to pick up the deceased for arrangements with the family. It was truly a gruesome and horrific scene that played out in front of hundreds of students from Tourtellotte Memorial High School and Marianapolis Preparatory School.

Haley Anderson, sister of crash “victim” Ty Anderson, was moved by the enactment. “It was way too realistic and way too scary,” Anderson said.

Crissy Anderson, mother of Ty, said, “I hope that it makes all the kids think and stay safe while they are out with their friends.”

Kayla, a freshman at Tourtellotte High, was also moved by the scene. “It’s really weird because this stuff really happens,” she said.

Alex, also a freshman, stated, “It’s pretty bad. It’s sad that this happens every day.”

Andreas, a junior at Marianapolis, commented, “This is pretty horrifying, and the number of people that actually respond…”

Angela Burgess, one of the actors in the crash, said, “I did not think it would affect me as much as it did. This is just a mock crash.”

James, a senior at Tourtellotte, upon hearing that you never want to have to remember such an event for the rest of your life, replied, “You are right about that.”

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