As a parent, even though I'm well aware that what I saw was staged, the effect was chilling.
On Friday morning, right before the long Memorial Day weekend, I arrived to find three automobiles smashed and tipped over in the Red Bank Regional parking lot as part of the high school's annual Project Prom. The dramatic simulation on May 25 of a multiple vehicular accident caused by drunk driving and its emergency response from area first aid, police and fire personnel is a diorama of every parent's worst nightmare.
"What you just saw is about as real as we can get it," Little Silver Police Officer Pete Gibson, who's the resource officer for the high school, told the crowd of students gathered to watch the dramatic exercise.
Emergency vehicles swarmed through the school's entrance with wailing sirens and for the next hour, emergency workers from nearby towns worked tirelessly to free victims trapped within the vehicles while the senior class looked on. The Class of 2012 will hold its Senior Prom on Friday, June 1 at the MerriMakers Reception Center at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel.
“Every 30 seconds someone is killed in this country in a vehicular incident, and year after year federal statistics demonstrate that a disproportionate amount of those fatalities are young people celebrating their prom season with alcohol in an automobile," according to Gibson, who oversaw the mock crash. "We do this program so that our students will pass another prom season without adding to those sobering statistics.”
Following the mock crash exercise, students returned inside to hear sobering tales from speakers who shared their real life experiences, like a mom who lost a child in a drunk driving accident and a 21-year old Jackson resident who is on his way to prison for seven years for rear ending a minivan while drunk and killing the driver.
"Stuff like this doesn't happen to people like us," Joy Jones of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose son Steven was killed just shy of his 20th birthday told the senior class. "I'm here to tell you that stuff like this does happen to people like us."