Students get drunk-driving accident demonstration | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Students get drunk-driving accident demonstration

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Single-vehicle accident at High School Hill. One occupant is trapped.

Firefighters arrived and put an 18-year-old in a body bag; a policeman tested another teen-ager for drunken driving; paramedics wrapped gauze around the face of a 17-year-old trapped in a smashed blue Pontiac.

All of it was part of a staged DUI wreck Thursday morning on the football field at South Tahoe High School.

Garrett McIntyre, Katy Stovall and Drew Ketelsen, all seniors about to attend a prom this Saturday and graduate June 20, volunteered to wear fake blood applied by the drama teacher and be part of the demonstration.

“They had a car, freedom, graduation coming up — they were having a real good time,” said South Lake Tahoe fire Capt. Brad Piazzo. “Maybe this is what causes them to drink, but they shouldn’t drive.”

Piazzo narrarated a 30-minute demonstration for about 300 seniors who sat on bleachers. Students laughed at first when they watched classmates act out the scenario, but chuckles disappeared as they moved the loaded body bag away from the car and firefighters ripped into the Pontiac with extrication equipment.

“I think it’s a good lesson to everyone,” said Kristie Ford, 17. “I don’t think people want to be in that situation.”

Paramedics gave oxygen and intravenous fluids to the girl while they worked to unhook her leg.

“We’ve had situation like this where people die right in front of our eyes,” Piazzo said. “Accidents happen, but there is no reason they have to happen because of alcohol.”

Despite school officials telling students ahead of time it was mock demonstration, one girl shed tears and welcomed consolation from a friend.

“I know a couple of people there had lost friends and relatives in a similar way,” Piazzo said, “but we had to get the message out. We didn’t want to hurt anyone but we definitely wanted to have an impact.”

The demonstration had an effect on Becky Campbell, 18.

“I took it seriously,” she said. “There are consequences for drinking and driving. I think it can be example to people who try to be careful, but when you drink you don’t have much common sense.”

This was the first such demonstration at the high school. In the past, at this time of year, emergency services have placed mangled cars in front of school in hopes it would make people think twice before they drink and drive.

South Lake Tahoe Police Department and PAALCO Towing also participated in the demonstration Thursday.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at 542-8045 or gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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