NEW BREMEN – It’s a possible prom event every parent dreads — a deadly car crash.
Although the crash scene on Wednesday was a mock-up of the real thing, it showed 120 New Bremen juniors and seniors the potentially fatal costs of drinking or texting while driving.
The mock crash scene was part of the Drive Smart Program, a cooperative effort between The New Bremen EMS, New Bremen Fire Department and New Bremen Schools, timed to be held before this weekend’s New Bremen Prom.
Mandy Via, Life Flight coordinator nurse and outreach coordinator, said the event emphasized not only the loss of life and permanent injury real crashes cause, but also the tremendous cost and number of emergency personnel and equipment needed to respond to accident scenes. She added there is no charge for this program and that they do 25-30 each year in their 17 county region.
One of the speakers was Laura Cruea whose 18-year-old son Joey Seger was killed 8 ½ years ago in a collision with another driver high on glue. She said that Joey was only four miles from home. She told the students that for her son there would be no wedding, no college, no future. Cruea has channeled her grief into working with 4-H CarTeens and appearing with Via at these mock crash scenes. One year ago she became the state chair for MADD.
But she said she would never be the same person she was before her son died. She added however, “If I can get one person to change what they are doing, then Joey didn’t die for nothing.”
Via narrated what was happening at the mock accident scene as the progression of emergency vehicles arrived. She said some “injuries” of students would be too severe for them to survive before help arrived. The student body witnessed bloodied fellow students inside two wrecked cars, how the Jaws of Life had to be used to pull off car doors, how the drivers were tested for sobriety, how witness statements were taken, and how a teen driver held responsible for the mock accident was led away in handcuffs. They heard an “injured” boy ask repeatedly for his girl friend, who was laying on the hood of a car, declared dead.
Assisting at the scene were Auglaize Sheriff and New Bremen Police cruisers, and New Bremen/German Township ambulances and fire trucks. At the end a Life Flight helicopter arrived to take away one “critically injured” student. Most sobering was the arrival of a Gilberg-Hartwig hearse to take a sheet-draped “body” off the hood.
Toward the end of the event, student Hannah Kramer read a poem that reflected what a young person has lost if killed or injured.
Via wrapped up the presentation by asking the students to take the message forward.
“We (emergency workers) see accidents like this in real life. Call out friends and even family members if you see them doing risky behavior,” she said. “Make good decisions this week.”
The student volunteers for the accident scene were Jessica Fledderjohan, Casey Parker, Sarah Parker, Ashton Heitkamp, Ben Kuck,and Josh Neikamp. Neikamp said he volunteered for this because he wanted everyone to see how bad choices can have serious consequences.
New Bremen High School Principal Marcus Overman said it was good to have students see what happens at a wreck.
“If one student benefits, it is worth it,” he said.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.