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Mock crash teaches real lessons to students

POULSBO — The blood was fake. The smoke was dry ice. And when one North Kitsap High School student was led away from a gruesome accident scene last Friday, he knew he would soon slip out of his handcuffs and into a tuxedo for the prom.

But students, educators, and law enforcement officials hope the message behind Friday’s mock car crash was real enough.

The event, which is held once every two years, is a reminder to students about the dangers of drinking and driving. It is put on by the school’s Leaders in North Kitsap (LINK) club, and most North Kitsap law enforcement agencies participated.

As students from each grade level packed the stands, they witnessed a gruesome scene: a head-on accident between a pickup truck and a Honda station wagon, with one driver weeping on the ground nearby, another wandering around in a daze, and one student, bloodied, lying face down on the hood of the Honda.

As the 911 call was played over a sound system — one dazed victim gave a six-digit phone number before being reminded that phone numbers are seven digits long — the “drunk” driver gazed, horrified, at the victims of the crash.

The call was followed by rescue crews, who tended to victims, cut into the Honda to reach other victims, and arrested one of the drivers.

Jo Ann Salwei, the LINK coordinator, said the scene is made as realistic as possible; the LINK students playing the victims are even paired as closely as possible with their actual prom dates.

“It’s just so they stop and think,” she said.

Salwei said the reaction varies: “We have some kids say it’s really dumb,” she said. “But there are some (students) it really impacts. A lot of kids take it seriously.”

Some of those who take the mock crash seriously are LINK students, who work hard to put on the event. This year, they even got to prepare the realistic wounds, which included protruding bones and bits of glass.

“They thought it was really neat,” Salwei said. “Especially the glass coming out of the head. They thought was pretty cool.”

The “crash” included 12 students total.

Salwei said that some students were eager to play roles, except for one part: “Nobody wasnted to be the drunk driver,” she said.

Agencies that participated included the Poulsbo Fire Department, North Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Kitsap County Coroner’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Poulsbo Police, Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management, Kitsap County Central Communication, ShowHoss productions, and Bremerton/Kitsap County Traffic Safety.

Gateway Towing provided the vehicles, one of which had been involved in a real accident.

Michéle Laboda, spokeswoman for North Kitsap Fire and Rescue and Poulsbo Fire Depatment, said the students did a great job in participating.

“It’s not about the cars getting cut up, or the radios; it’s about the people this is happening to,” she said.

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