It was a surreal scene on Golden Bear Parkway two days before prom. Last week two demolished cars held teen drivers and their passengers groaning, bleeding and a couple of them too still. Dead.
On Thursday Mt. Juliet High School 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 EMS students from the school and their friends watching were upset at the simulation that made it seem so real.
That's what Fire Department of Mt. Juliet Chief Jamie Luffman intended. He helped organized the mock car crash in hopes it would stay in the minds of the students as they go into summer and attend their prom.
"Prom night is supposed to be the highlight of their life," Luffman said at the scene. "We don't want bad decisions or distraction, drinking, and turn it into the worse day of their lives."
It was a joint effort. Along with FDMJ, Wilson Emergency Management Agency, LifeFlight, Mt. Juliet Police Department and Hamblen's Wrecker Service were also 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.
One driver was eventually zipped into a body bag.
Teacher Kim Brown is the EMS teacher and helped plan the simulation that is in its 13 year.
"This year it was mock distracted driving," she said. "It's like a real world event that can happen and can't be reversed. Prom is Saturday night and this is a reminder for the kids to be responsible. One small move can result in this."
She said next year she hopes to find some prom dresses for the actors to wear to make it even more real and hit home.
Senior Savannah Reese, 18, said the scene was upsetting.
"To see the kinds of wounds and all the blood," she said. "This shows how serious it can get and to be aware."
Principal Mel Brown said he knows the simulation sinks into the brains of his students.
"I really hope they take it seriously," he said. "I know they appreciate this effort and the desire for our community to watch out for them."
Luffman said if just one student makes the right decision instead of the wrong one while driving anytime, that's "one happy ending."