Mock crash and funeral encourage safety

May 20, 2010

By Staff

UPDATED — 1:25 p.m. May 20, 2010

The students at the party drank liberally as they danced to rap music. When they left, Mount Si Senior Alex Rudd offered to drive, but senior Sam Evans was adamant; he felt fine and said he was OK to get behind the wheel, leaving a cliffhanger for the assembly featuring Think and Drive Week at Mount Si May 13.

Mock crash, real lessons

Picture 1 of 8

Mount Si High School seniors watch as their classmates stage a mock car crash caused by drunk driver and texting. (Photo by Laura Geggel)

Every other year, the Mount Si Associated Student Body organizes a mock crash assembly in the week preceding prom. This year’s assembly, for juniors and seniors, began with a student-made video showing seniors drinking and partying. When the video ended as Evans drove away, the assembly moved outside, where students watched a reenactment of a drunken driving and texting car accident.

Meghan Travis, ASB chair of student relations, warned students the mock crash would be emotional.

“We hope this never happens at Mount Si High School,” Travis said.

At first, all students could see were two cars covered with a tarp. But once the tarp was pulled away, it revealed a bloody scene: in one car, senior Melanie Jenckes was lying through her car’s windshield and senior Rossco Castagno lay unconscious against the side window. Their backseat passenger senior Christina Finley screamed hysterically, trying to wake up senior Andrew Sypher, who would later have his arm amputated.

In the other car, Evans and his passengers started yelling at each other, unsure what to do.

“Oh my god, Suzye,” Evans said, looking at his hurt friend in the backseat.

“How could you do this?” Rudd asked Evans.

“I don’t know, I’m so sorry,” he said. “Help her!”

Snoqualmie Fire Department Lieutenant Kelly Gall narrated the mock crash as Mount Si juniors and seniors watched mesmerized as the scene unfolded on Schusman Avenue Southeast. Gall described the mock crash, telling students Evans’s character had made the bad decision to drink and drive and that Jenckes had been texting while driving.

The last text she sent read, “Mom, I’ll be home soon,” Gall said.

The ASB received help from Eastside Fire & Rescue, the Snoqualmie Police Department and Triple J Towing. As police and firefighters rushed to the mock crash, Gall told students they would do triage, treating the most injured people first.

Firefighters draped a white sheet over Jenckes after determining she had no pulse. They tried CPR on Castagno, but he succumbed to his injuries, and they placed a white sheet over him, too.

Police administered mock DUI tests to Evans and placed him under arrest.

“So, Sam Evans will spend the night in jail,” Gall said, of the mock crash drunken driver.

With two fatalities and three injuries, Gall said in real life, a drunken driver like that could get up to 24 years in jail and lose a fortune to court costs.

Gall asked students to think about how their decisions affected not only them but also their family, friends and community.

“Accidents like this happen every day,” Gall said. “People make bad decisions.”

As the mock crash wrapped up, students went back into the gymnasium for the last part of the assembly: Castagno’s funeral.

Students watched a slideshow of Castagno’s childhood photos and heard eulogies from his friend Brandon Dollintar and his older brother. If the mock crash were real, Castagno would have died at age 19 and left his family and friends in mourning.

Junior Hailey Conway said the assembly had left her shaken.

“It was really real and really scary,” Conway said. “It really hit home because it was people we knew.”

The assembly ended with a speech from a father who had lost his daughter in a real drunken driving accident. Eric Munson, a prevention intervention specialist in the Auburn School District and husband of Snoqualmie Police Department Spokeswoman Becky Munson, talked about his 19-year-old daughter Heidi, who died in a drunken driving accident in 2004.

“The tragedy doesn’t stop here. Like you, they had plans and dreams and lives that were cut short,” Eric Munson said. “For those of you who say, ‘It can’t happen to me,’ I’m here to say that it can.”

Students gave Eric Munson a standing ovation after his presentation.

“It was sad,” senior Katy Shain said. “I thought it wasn’t going to be convincing, but everyone had goose bumps and everyone was shaking.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 221, or lgeggel@snovalleystar.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.

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One Response to “Mock crash and funeral encourage safety”

  1. The Issaquah Press is the best in the Northwest : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds in Issaquah, WA on May 21st, 2011 10:32 pm

    [...] also earned second place in the education reporting category for a Star piece about auto crash safety for high school [...]

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