May 18, 2013


Sober lesson in mock crash

MockJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland County Sheriff’s officer Garry Williams takes Marathon senior Eryn Griep to the side for a sobriety test at the scene of a mock accident Friday morning at Marathon High School.

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — Members of Students Against Dangerous Decisions, or SADD, staged a mock drunken car crash Friday morning with the help of the Marathon Fire Department.
Just one day before the junior-senior prom, Marathon high school students gathered in an adjacent field to the school to witness the aftermath of a fatal two-car crash.
Senior SADD member Rebecca Veninsky, also the secretary for student council, said it is important to show students the reality of what could happen if they choose to drink and drive.
“We want to raise awareness that this could happen and that they need to be careful,” she said.
Separated from the accident scene by a rope, high school students viewed a two-door Ford Escort holding four passengers that crashed into a four-door Ford Taurus with four passengers.
High school math teacher and SADD advisor Anna Gurewich, who has been advising the group for about 22 years, said the current seven-member SADD team is devoted to showing students how dangerous drinking and driving can be, especially before the prom.
Screams bellowed from the injured students staged in the crash, fake blood dripped down the faces of the two “dead” victims in the front seat of the Ford Taurus, and a beer can was waved near the window of the mock drunk student driver.
Two Marathon ambulances, rescue trucks and one fire truck, along with a Killawog rescue truck responded to the scene.
The 12 fire department personnel and emergency medical technicians rushed to the crash to first survey the damage.
Marathon Fire Chief Dustin Contri narrated steps taken after the crash occurred for the students.
“Depending on the severity of the crash, the crew may need to cut open the roof of the car, break free a door or smash the window in order to get to victims” he said. “In many cases, drivers’ legs and feet can get entangled with the gas and break pedals, making it challenging to pull them out.”
Vehicle tires were secured in place with wooden blocks, while crew members placed white sheets over the two deceased bodies and blankets over the remaining four.
“I just cannot believe how real it seemed,” sophomore Baily McCarthy said.
Two students in the back seat of the hit Ford Taurus were taken away on stretchers with neck braces and fake blood dripping down their legs, arms and faces. The victims yelled “help me, help me, it hurts” and “it was all her fault,” referring to the student in the other vehicle who caused the crash by drinking while intoxicated.
“Four out of five drivers involved in drinking while driving walk away from the accident without injuries,” Contri said.
Students observed the drunk driver attempting a sobriety test issued by a Cortland County Sheriff’s deputy. After failing to walk in a straight line or touch her nose with her finger, the driver was then handcuffed and arrested.
Students will hopefully understand the extent of injuries that can occur in a crash, as well as the devastating ramifications of drinking while driving, Contri added.
In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunken driving crashes, one every 53 minutes, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data released in 2012.
Seniors Mike Phillips and Allie McConnell said Friday’s production was pretty impressive.
Marathon’s student council organized an after-prom party to dissuade students from drinking and partying on their own.
“We have already received 75 signed permission slips, which is significantly higher from the 20 we had last year,” Veninsky said.
To entice students, student council secured donations in the form of prizes from local businesses, rented bounce houses and food auction, among lots of other activities, she said.
Both Phillips and McConnell plan on attending the prom, but will be going to the after-prom party held at the Marathon high school.
“If you surround yourself with a good group of friends, you are going to make more responsible choices,” Phillips said.


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