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Bishop’s School stages car-crash reenactment to show ‘real’ consequences of drunk-driving for La Jolla students

“9-1-1 what’s your emergency?” Bishop’s upper school students heard over loudspeakers during a staged drunk driving presentation, March 25. “There’s been an accident, I think my friend is dead!” cried the terrified caller.

A crash scene was staged in front of the hundreds of students to show the lasting and devastating effects of drinking and driving. It depicted the results of a drunk driver colliding head-on with another car, leaving the body of a classmate splayed on the hood.

For The Bishop’s school staging, student Ariana is portrayed as someone who ‘died’ on impact after the crash, flung from the car through the windshield.
For The Bishop’s school staging, student Ariana is portrayed as someone who ‘died’ on impact after the crash, flung from the car through the windshield.

The presentation covered the true-to-life series of events that follow a fatal accident — from the police arriving to the removal of a deceased victim — performed by real emergency personnel.

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“It’s one thing for me to tell them or a police officer to tell them ‘don’t drink and drive,’ but to actually see this crash is alarming,” said Megan Broderick, Bishop’s counseling director. For maximum impact, the driver and three victims were all played by Bishop’s students.

Conner is taken to the hospital for treatment. Doctors would later report he was ‘paralyzed’ in the accident.
Conner is taken to the hospital for treatment. Doctors would later report he was ‘paralyzed’ in the accident.

Bill Goss, head of upper school, said the students involved in staging the presentation filmed what would have happened at the hospital and the courthouse where the driver is to be tried. The students watched the film the next day at an assembly. “It’s as real as it can get for these students,” he said.

The graphic presentation, under the auspices of the “Every 15 Minutes” program coordinated by the California Highway Patrol and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was originally made four years ago to students who have since graduated. Those watching Thursday, were doing so for the first time.

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The entire Bishop’s upper school attends the presentation.
The entire Bishop’s upper school attends the presentation.

“If I’m being real, we’ve all had friends who’ve made bad decisions and there were no bad consequences, so this simulation was good because it made it real and showed the consequences,” said senior Megan Nguyen. “The part that struck me was seeing the parents react. I never thought about the consequences and the reach of those consequences.”

A parent of one of the ‘victims’ arrives on the scene yells, ‘That’s my son! What happened?’
A parent of one of the ‘victims’ arrives on the scene yells, ‘That’s my son! What happened?’

Bryan Edwards added, “It was surprising for me. I could visualize what could go wrong, but I’ve never actually seen it (reenacted). It felt so real. So much happens that you don’t think about — like firetrucks, gurneys and the coroner showing up.”

Mackenzie Holmes said, “Before I saw this, the idea of drunk driving was not something I’d ever seen or known anyone who had been affected by it, so it was almost imaginary. This made it real.”

After failing a field sobriety test, ‘driver’ Liam is arrested for DUI and manslaughter.
After failing a field sobriety test, ‘driver’ Liam is arrested for DUI and manslaughter.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For more information about the program, call (916) 843-3351.

Fire & Rescue personnel remove Ariana’s ‘deceased’ body after the accident.
Fire & Rescue personnel remove Ariana’s ‘deceased’ body after the accident.
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