Truckee High’s mock car crash encourages students to drive responsibly
“9-1-1 what’s your emergency?” a voice said over the loudspeaker at Truckee High School Wednesday morning.
“I’m at the high school and there’s been a car crash,” said the caller.
After hearing the call, students left their classes and flooded into the parking lot where a gruesome car accident was staged, caused by an alleged drunk driver. Sirens wailed in the distance as students crowded around two totaled cars that contained eight of their classmates pretending to be injured or worse.
“I didn’t realize how hard it was going to hit me,” said Alia Sinoff, a sophomore at Truckee High School. “I never thought about how real this is and how easy something like this could happen.”
Law enforcement and emergency medical services were on the scene within minutes, trying to pull injured students from the cars. One by one they were rushed off by ambulance, while one student was airlifted out by a helicopter.
Meanwhile the student who initially caused the accident, Megan Flynn, sat uninjured on the curb while medical personnel worked to save the lives — at least theatrically — of her classmates.
The simulation is part of the Every 15 Minutes program, which the high school puts on every two years one week prior to prom, in hopes of deterring students from drinking and driving and “to create an awareness among students that they are not invincible,” the program’s website states.
‘WE KNOW THESE KIDS’
After the injured students received medical attention, Flynn was given a series of tests to determine if she was driving under the influence of alcohol. The tests ended with Flynn handcuffed and placed in the back of an officer’s car.
“We know these kids, Megan who was getting arrested and the people who were getting pulled out of the cars,” said Carly Davis, a sophomore. “I think it impacted a lot of people because the of the connections we have with them. We know who they are.”
Following Flynn’s arrest, the students who died in the accident were pulled from the car and taken away by a coroner.
According to Truckee Police Officer Brad Beers, everything done in the simulation was exactly how a real crash would be treated.
“There’s the priority of life over the priority of an investigation. That’s what we tried to highlight. Those components being shown,” said Beers. The only thing left out of the process was, Beers said, the investigation into how the accident occurred.
While the simulation couldn’t happen without the involvement of public safety officials, Beers said “ultimately it’s the kids that are really in charge of it.”
“Our job as public servants is to come alongside the kids an try to help their vision become reality,” said Beers.
“I think they were more engaged than they have been in the past,” said Truckee High School Principal Logan Mallonee. “I wanted this to have a positive impact on them so they make the right decisions. We have prom this weekend so I hope it makes them think twice about their decisions.”
On the following day, the school held a mock funeral for the two students who had been killed in the accident to “open the emotional doors” according to the program’s website so “they experience firsthand how their actions affect the lives of so many other people.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.