ROCKLAND, Maine — A car crash almost three years ago that claimed the lives of three people, including two Rockland students, was the impetus for a mock fatal accident Wednesday morning on the grounds of Oceanside High School East.
Senior Hannah Plourde said such tragedies have a profound impact on the student body.
“It hurt our school. Even if you only knew the students slightly, it had an effect,” Plourde said.
She and fellow students organized the exercise called “Every 15 Minutes” to bring awareness to alcohol-related crashes in the United States, which happen an average of four times an hour.
“This could happen any day to anyone,” she said.
Senior Danielle Bedard said she knew one of the teenage girls killed in the November 2010 crash in Hope.
Oceanside East health teacher Brian Plourde has staged Every 15 Minutes several times. The last time was in 2008 at the then-Rockland District High School. His oldest daughter had been involved with organizing the 2008 program, and his daughter Hannah stepped up this year.
Eight students worked with Brian Plourde throughout the school year to coordinate the program. Community organizations and Maine State Police, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Rockland Police Department, Rockland Emergency Medical Services, Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and Burpee Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home in Rockland have all pitched in.
The program involves a mock head-on car collision in the school parking lot. Several students played roles as occupants of the vehicles in which one youngster died and a driver was arrested for drunk driving.
Parents also participated. Clyson and Dyann Peters played the role of grieving parents. Their daughter Shale Peters was covered with a white sheet and fake blood next to the wreckage.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody was also on the scene speaking with officers.
Brian Plourde said the aim is to make the program as realistic as possible to make students realize that drinking and driving is a deadly combination. A mock funeral is scheduled for Thursday and seniors will go to the Knox County Superior Courthouse on Friday for a faux trial.
Juniors on Friday will use drunk driving simulators, a computer program that depicts how driving is impaired when too much alcohol is consumed, along with presentations by police officers and insurance agents, the teacher said.
“If this keep one kid alive then it’s worth it,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of the story was incorrect. Shale Peters is the daughter of Clyson and Dyann Peters.
Correction: Shale Peters is the daughter of Clyson and Dyann Peters.