MCHS held a collision scenario to illustrate the consequences of impaired driving May 21. The scenario was made possible with the assistance of Morinville RCMP members, Morinvile Peace Officers, firefighters and paramedics. – Stephen Dafoe Photos
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Sirens screamed through the streets behind Morinville Community High School (MCHS) Wednesday morning as police, paramedics and firefighters arrived at the scene of a two-vehicle collision that claimed the life of two teenagers, sent another to hospital, and saw a fourth charged with impaired driving. The upside to Wednesday’s student tragedy was the fact the deceased took off the theatrical makeup and walked away, the injured student climbed out of the ambulance and returned to class, and the impaired student’s charge was purely for show.
With graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 14, MCHS decided to take the important message of the consequences of drinking and driving to graphic levels once again this year.
“It’s demonstrating what could happen on graduation day,” said Morinville RCMP Constable Jamie Short, the school resource officer who has spent the past couple months working with partnering agencies to prepare the annual event. “The reason why it’s important is because we want to show what could happen when you’re drinking and driving and get behind the wheel.”
The event pooled the resources of the Morinville RCMP Detachment with the Morinville Fire Department, Community Peace Officers, EMS, and a towing company to transport the wrecked vehicles to and from the mock collision scene.
Short sees the time and effort spent setting up and running the scenario as valuable in driving the message home at an important time. “I know from doing this before in years previously, people say it opens their eyes,” he said. “They don’t see what happens. They sometimes know people involved in a collision or who have died, but they don’t see how it happens. It’s an important message to get out to students. Stats are showing that younger drivers are unfortunately drinking and driving a little bit more.”
MCHS Principal Todd Eistetter also sees value in the mock collision scenario. “At this time of year with grad approaching and the weather getting nicer, there is a large number of outdoor parties and house parties,” he said. “We really have to be careful. It is a huge safety issue for everyone, but especially this age group. There’s a lot of emotions, a lot of excitement, and we just want to prevent it as much as we can. If we can assist with a few students and give them additional information, and allow them to be better prepared to avoid something like this – that’s what we want.”
MCHS student Andrew Vuttree played the role of the impaired driver in the May 21 mock collision. That role included being interviewed by police, being given a roadside breathalyser test, and being handcuffed for a ride in the back of a police vehicle. Though in on the act from the beginning, the realism of the scenario made him think about himself and his fellow students.
“It was pretty scary, actually,” Vuttree said after the scenario. “It felt like I was actually there, and I’d never want to be in that situation. The fact that you killed two people would be pretty heartbreaking.” The student said he believes the mock collision sent a message to his fellow students. “At the end of the day, we should all just find a ride home, get a taxi or something. The consequences [to do otherwise] could be serious.”
Morinville Community High School has 128 students graduating this year. Graduation ceremonies are set to take place June 14.
Above left: MCHS student Andrew Vuttree played the role of the impaired driver in the May 21 mock collision.