#8216;Crash#8217; brings dangerous driving to life at CHS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

CHESAPEAKE — The head-on crash on the Chesapeake High School football field may have been fake Tuesday morning, but the message it was meant to send to the students at the school was very real.

The crash featured “victims” portrayed by some of the students — one that was arrested for driving under the influence and another who died from his injuries —

responses by local emergency crews and a very sobering message, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Smith, who facilitated the program.

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“Kids don’t want to see people stand up here and hear someone preaching at them,” Smith said. “They really need the visual affects to make the impact that we want.”

Smith said “death is not pretty”

and he hopes that message gets across to the students, especially since this weekend four local schools — South Point, Rock Hill, Proctorville and Fairland — will be sponsoring their proms. There will be extra patrols this weekend to ensure prom-goers safety, Smith said.

“We are not trying to pick on you, but we just want to make sure you are safe and everyone gets back to school on Monday morning,” the trooper said the group of students assembled on the bleachers.

He said stupid driving decisions, with or without alcohol, are a serious problem among teens. In fact, he said, car accidents are the leading cause of death among young people.

Ed Webb, assistant fire chief with the Chesapeake Fire Department, said he feels the simulated crash has an impact on the students. He said it makes the teens think about the consequence of their actions.

“That’s what we want, to make a strong impact,” Webb said. “They can see their peers out there helping us put on the program and they realize how serious it can be. They need to know that with or without alcohol, the impact (of a car accident) can be severe.”

The simulated car crash was brought to the school by the group Cautious Responsible Teens (CSR Teens) a collaborative effort among the state patrol, the state 4-H program and the county’s juvenile court under the direction of Judge David Payne. In the 15 years the program has been in existence, there have been no prom-goers involved in accidents in Lawrence County, Smith said.

Tim Wentz, a Chesapeake senior and EMT student at Collins Career Center, said he hopes that Tuesday’s program makes his peers think about their driving habits, even though he admits some of them “could care less.”

“I think they just need to be scared into it,” Wentz said.

He and five other of his classmates at Collins attended the event. Many of them had already been to crashes, although most of them minor, as part of their clinicals through the EMT program.

“Even if they are not driving drunk, they still can be hurt by driving dangerously,” Wentz said.

His girlfriend, Liz Brown, is also an EMT student, but she is a student from Symmes Valley. She said Tuesday’s event brought back memories of an accident she was involved in more than two years ago. The accident was not alcohol-related, but was caused by icy conditions on a rural road near Scottown. She was wearing her seatbelt, but still suffered a broken collarbone and other minor injuries.

“I these kind of programs help people. They could be hurt by doing things they shouldn’t be doing, even if it is just driving fast and not drinking,” Brown said.

She said her accident was the catalyst for her wanting to be in the EMT program.

The OSHP will be continuing to bring its safe-driving message to schools thoughout the county. Today they will be at Fairland and Coal Grove. Those programs will feature former Mississippi state trooper Pete Collins who now serves as a motivational speaker.