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‘This is real’ : BAHS students learn about dire consequences and risks of impaired, distracted driving

Mirror photos by Conner Goetz Members of the Excelsior Fire Company help carry simulated crash victims and Bellwood- Antis alumna Autumn Ray as part of their demonstration at Bellwood-Antis High School Friday morning on the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.

BELLWOOD — Senior, junior and sophomore students at Bellwood-Antis High School received a grim reminder of the dangers of distracted driving Friday morning, when local emergency service personnel presented a mock accident in front of the school.

Members of Excelsior Fire Company, AMED and the Blair County Coroner’s Office teamed up with BASD faculty to present a simulated car accident scene to demonstrate the risk of driving impaired or distracted.

A sedan — complete with splatters of imitation blood and a fake amputated hand — was staged to accurately resemble a real crash.

High school principal Richard Schreier began the presentation with a reminder.

“We’re not trying to scare you straight in any way here, but it’s just one more simulation to put in front of you, to recognize that this is real,” Schreier said.

He emphasized that, in light of the upcoming high school prom and graduation events, road safety is more important than ever.

“What’s associated with those events is partying, and doing things maybe highschoolers shouldn’t be doing,” Schreier said, alluding to underage drinking.

Another concern Schreier noted is texting and driving, which can be a serious distraction for drivers.

“I can’t believe how many people I see on the highway reading their phone while they’re going 80 mph … it’s crazy,” he said.

Excelsior Fire Company Captain John Finamore followed the principal, sharing his experience being a first responder at car crash scenes.

“This is a very heavy piece of steel you are in control of, and the fact of the matter is that there’s human error,” Finamore said. “If that piece of steel that weighs 5,000 pounds (crashes into another object) there will be injury, there will be death,” he said with a sharp clap of his hands.

After briefly hearing from Deputy Coroner Terry Dellinger, Schreier led the students out of the auditorium, into the parking lot where the staged accident was waiting.

Students were then witness to the complete emergency response process. From first responders pulling simulated victims Autumn Ray and Brenin Abbott from the wreckage, to AMED medics working with Dellinger to bag a corpse, portrayed by Madison McFarland.

McFarland is a current student at BASD, and junior firefighter, while Ray and Abbott are Bellwood-Antis alumnae and EMTs and firefighters, respectively.

“It was really educational, I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that, but it really gave you the jist that it was (real),” junior Hannah Wait said.

And while Wait said that the simulation didn’t change her travel plans for prom, “I hope that it would help other students.”

“I think it’s good that we include things like this in the curriculum here, because it gives a real-life example of things that happen,” Jacob Caracciolo said.

According to Caracciolo, the presentation helped “tie everything together” with what he had learned in his in-school driver’s education program.

“It’s similar — we learn about the risks of driving under the influence, and what can result from that, (legally) and accident-wise,” Caracciolo said.

According to Schreier, the simulation was a success, despite an unexpected rainstorm at the end of the program.

“If this saves just one life, we’re glad we were able to do it,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Conner Goetz is at 814-946-7535.

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