Students Learn About Driving Safety in Time for Prom Season

The coming high school prom season is a time for safety awareness for local students, including those at Pentucket Regional High School, West Newbury, where local public safety leaders staged a mock fatal crash scene.

Groveland and West Newbury Police and Fire Officials conducted a simulated fatal motor vehicle crash in front of 400 Pentucket juniors and seniors Tuesday afternoon. Officials said it was meant to instill the importance of responsible decision-making in students before their prom on Friday.

“This is an important event for students to see, as it shows how certain decisions can have negative ramifications on themselves, their friends and their family,” Groveland Fire Chief Robert Lay said. “The simulation offers a real-life look into how first responders handle a fatal car crash and the sadness surrounding the incident.”

During the event, two cars were placed together, as if they had crashed. Six student actors from the high school theater department portrayed a drunken driver and passengers in both vehicles.

“Students should think twice before drinking and driving or getting into a vehicle with someone who is under the influence of alcohol,” West Newbury Police Chief Lisa Holmes said. “We hope to see teenagers act responsibly this weekend at prom to ensure a safe night for all involved.”

As part of the simulation, Groveland and West Newbury Police, along with Groveland, West Newbury and Merrimac Fire, responded to investigate. EMS also arrived to provide medical treatment to passengers. One passenger was extracted from a car and pronounced dead on the scene. Others were treated for serious injuries and removed from the vehicles by stretcher to be taken to the hospital. Police determined the driver was under the influence of alcohol. He was placed in handcuffs and arrested.

“It is always a sad situation when a motor vehicle operator chooses to drink and drive,” Groveland Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen said. “In this situation, a life that could have been spared was lost.” To conclude the simulation, a hearse from Paul C. Rogers & Sons Funeral Homes arrived to take away the body of the deceased as the students watched.

“We think it's important to offer this presentation on a regular basis to remind students that when they get behind the wheel they’re responsible for not only themselves, but their passengers as well,” West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer said. “It’s always devastating to respond to call of a motor vehicle fatality.”