Vancleave High Students See Dangers Of Drunk Driving - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/14/03

Vancleave High Students See Dangers Of Drunk Driving

A fatal accident in the parking lot of Vancleave High Friday, reminded students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

The accident was staged. But the message was real and powerful.

Three popular students demonstrated the importance of the annual "prom promise".

A Jackson County Sheriff's deputy was the first to arrive. Three popular students appeared badly injured. One was thrown through the windshield. Their classmates solemnly watched the rescue scene unfold.

"And this will happen in real time, as it would in real situations," said firefighter, John Jennings, over the outdoor loudspeaker.

Rescue teams arrived in minutes, but to students watching it seemed so much longer.

Beth Richardson watched intently.  The high school student was experiencing something unfamilar.

"I've never been in any kind of car accident. So this really opened my eyes," she said.

The realistic drama is purposely designed to be an eye opener. Emergency crews worked to save the lives of a homecoming queen, a popular cheerleader and a well liked baseball player.

"It was a wonderful way to show people it can happen to you," said JoAnna Smith.

Students understand any one of them could be the victims in such a scene. This accident involved alcohol. The driver decided to take a chance and get behind the wheel after drinking. The consequences were not pleasant.

"You never think of three of your friends, one of them ends up dying and one goes to jail for 15 years. And the other is injured for the rest of their life. You just never think of that," explained Casey Elkins.

Jeremy Fletcher died at the scene. As the coroner did her job, the rescue team worked to save the girls. The realistic rescue drama is supposed to get students thinking about choices they face.

"Especially with prom coming up soon. And people have to make the decision whether they're going to drink and drive that night. Hopefully they'll remember back to this. And think twice," said JoAnna Smith.

The Student Council organized the mock accident. The council will be sponsoring other activities next week, to make students aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Vancleave High School's prom is Saturday, March 22nd.

By Steve Phillips

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