It was a surreal scene in the parking lot at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. Two demolished cars with the teen drivers and passengers groaning, bleeding and one too still. Dead.
On Friday, just days before their prom, juniors and seniors stood riveted. A pall descended on the students as a very real, very grim mock car crash played out before their eyes. Those in the cars were drama students at the school and their friends were upset at the simulation that made it seem so real.
That's what Wilson County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Ray Justice intended. He organized the mock car crash in hopes it will stay in the minds of the students as they go into summer and attend their prom.
"This was the time to do it," he said. "We all have a passion for the students and we want them to stay safe."
It's a joint effort. This year, along with the WCSO, the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet, the Mt. Juliet Police Department, WEMA, Vanderbilt's LifeFlight and Hamblin's Wrecker Service are involved.
The purpose of the simulation - that seemed eerily too real with paramedics and LifeFlight coming to transport a student and give aid - is to drive into the brains of these young adults what can happen if they drink, or text, while driving.
"The cooperation is main thing," said Sheriff Robert Bryan. "We work together to get the word out about the dangers of drinking and texting while driving. Kids at this age think they are invincible. We hope it sticks in their minds. It could be them or their friends."
While the "victims" screamed, moaned and cried, students were riveted. One driver was eventually zipped into a body bag.
"I'm about to cry," ninth grader Hannah Kowaski said. "These are people I know. It's scary it's so real."
After the simulation, the students went into the school's chapel where Justice spoke to them about the seriousness of being an alert and sober driver.
"I feel they take this very seriously, as seriously as 16, 17, and 18-year-olds do," he said. "Most teenagers think they are immortal and invincible. This is to show them that that's not true."
"I think it's vital for students to get a visual of what can happen with distracted driving," said Administrative Director Renee Reed. "As a parent it was chilling. If it makes one student think about this. It was worth it."
Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said the reenactment was beneficial. "If this doesn't get kids to stop texting while driving, I don't know what will. It (the reenactments) should be expanded to adults as well."
Already the mock crash was held at Wilson Central High School and another is scheduled at Mt. Juliet High School.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at email@example.com.