BUCKSPORT, Maine — Students at Bucksport High School were shown — in graphic detail — what can happen to impaired or distracted drivers on Thursday during a mock accident staged by the school and those who respond to real-life crashes.
The 300-plus students watched quietly and attentively for about an hour as police, rescue crews, investigators and eventually morticians re-enacted the aftermath of a two-car collision staged behind the school.
In the scenario, two teens died at the scene after being ejected from the vehicles while several others were taken away in ambulances or placed in police cruisers in handcuffs. Some of the most emotional moments came when family members of the “deceased” students identified their loved ones before rescue crews loaded the bodies into body bags and then hearses.
“It changed my outlook on a lot of things,” said Nealey McIninch, a sophomore from Bucksport, who along with Andie Lawford was emotionally affected by the portrayal.
“It was so real,” added Lawford, a junior from Bucksport.
The daylong “Wake-up Call” event was organized over several months by students on the school’s Make A Difference Team, police and other first responders. The event was led by Det. Brian Strout, a member of the Maine State Police’s major crimes unit in Bangor who has staged similar mock accidents throughout the state since 1991.
About two dozen police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel as well as funeral home directors and a representative from the state medical examiner’s office all played the roles they would normally play at the scene of a fatal accident.
Crews used the Jaws of Life to remove the roof of one car to extricate victims. The two students supposedly killed in the crash, meanwhile, laid motionless on the ground and on the hood of a car for an hour, partially covered with white sheets. Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Ed David then analyzed the bodies before they were zipped into body bags and taken away.
Strout repeatedly told students that there was “no reset button and no do-over” in real life when someone takes the wrong fork in the road.
“What I’m talking about is good kids, good people and good citizens that made bad decisions and paid for it for the rest of their lives,” Strout told the students.
Thursday’s scenario contained several key messages. One driver was drunk while the other driver was apparently texting behind the wheel.
Additionally, the two students killed in the mock accident were not wearing seat belts while those who survived were.
Later in the day, the students were expected to hear from someone who was involved in a fatal accident and would have “debriefings” before holding mock funerals for their classmates.
Earlier this month, an Oxford County teenager was arrested in connection with a crash that killed two of her friends. Police allege the teen had been drinking and was distracted by text messages while driving.