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Mon, March 18

Mayer students 'see' consequences of DUI

By Andrew Draper

The Big Bug News

"Motor vehicle accident. Mayer High School. Possible fatality. Possible ejection."

With graduation day approaching, the administrators and staff at the Mayer School District rocked the students' world Friday by showing them the reality of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The school district, Mayer Fire District, Yavapai County Sheriff's office, and the Big Bug News, in conjunction with several private companies, launched a live auto accident scenario right before the students' eyes.

Mayer High Principal Mary Bruhn said she felt the mock disaster would be effective in getting the students attention.

Administrators rousted the 200-plus students at Mayer Jr/Sr High School from their morning class routine Friday and brought them to the football field for a surprise assembly. When students entered the field area, they noticed something was definitely amiss. Three large tarps covered something big on the field. Beneath the tarps, a nightmare was about to unfold.

While the students settled themselves on the bleachers, the metallic tones of an emergency radio call suddendly cascaded down from the loudspeakers and over the crowd. To the surprise of the students, the Mayer Fire District dispatcher called out most of its fire and emergency medical crews to respond to the very spot where they were sitting.

As fellow students pulled back the tarps, members of the audience got their first look at the "scene."

A late model Toyota Camry had collided head-on with a full-sized van. The accident had just occurred and emergency crews were on their way. One of the first things audience members saw was four of their classmates trapped in the twisted steel and glass. Although the "victims" were actors, their artificially created bleeding and broken bodies drew instant attention from everyone in the stands.

Sophomore Shalynn Makinson, a member of the support staff for the event, sat in the stands and watched as her classmates saw their friends killed and maimed by one of their own.

"It seemed very real," she said. "A lot of them took it seriously."

The driver of the van was the first to move after the "crash." Senior Steve Sasser fell out the driver's door and was slow to regain his feet. Along with Sasser, several beer cans also fell out, signaling another alcohol related accident.

MFD Captain Jeff Swiggers told the gathering that death statistics do not favor the young and the odds get worse if they drink.

"Thirty-three percent of accidents involving people between the ages of 15 and 20 are fatal," he said. "Two of five involve alcohol."

The noisy buzz of the onlookers was quickly replaced by gasps as the intoxicated Sasser staggered toward the smashed car and finally saw his own passenger, sophomore Shannell Loughmiller, lying on the hood of the van. She was a victim of a front ejection through the windshield. A veteran of the drama class, Loughmiller said she was a little nervous about this role.

"When we went up on the football field and actually started getting into position it got kinda scary, because you realize how important this is," she said.

MFD paramedics and police units arrived on scene and began to assess the situation. Two teams of paramedics responded to the call and went to work trying to save anyone who might have survived the initial impact.

MFD personnel did an extensive job of simulating what is referred to by firefighters as a mass-casualty incident. One crew attempted to remove Loughmiller from the hood of the van while the other team tended to the two "victims" in the mangled car.

While the firefighters were trying to save the lives of the injured, Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy and school By Andrew Draper

The Big Bug News

"Motor vehicle accident. Mayer High School. Possible fatality. Possible ejection."

With graduation day approaching, the administrators and staff at the Mayer School District rocked the students' world Friday by showing them the reality of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The school district, Mayer Fire District, Yavapai County Sheriff's office, and the Big Bug News, in conjunction with several private companies, launched a live auto accident scenario right before the students' eyes.

Mayer High Principal Mary Bruhn said she felt the mock disaster would be effective in getting the students attention.

Administrators rousted the 200-plus students at Mayer Jr/Sr High School from their morning class routine Friday and brought them to the football field for a surprise assembly. When students entered the field area, they noticed something was definitely amiss. Three large tarps covered something big on the field. Beneath the tarps, a nightmare was about to unfold.

While the students settled themselves on the bleachers, the metallic tones of an emergency radio call suddendly cascaded down from the loudspeakers and over the crowd. To the surprise of the students, the Mayer Fire District dispatcher called out most of its fire and emergency medical crews to respond to the very spot where they were sitting.

As fellow students pulled back the tarps, members of the audience got their first look at the "scene."

Mayer Jr/Sr High School students watch as firefighter Randy reardon carries Raelynn Pomichter away on a stretcher during a staged drunk driving accident at the school friday. Emergency agencies, the Big Bug News, and students participated in the mock accident to show students the real consequences of drinking and driving.

Big Bug News photo/Andrew Draper

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