Cumberland Times-News

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April 24, 2013

Staged accident warns of deadly consequences of drinking and driving

RIDGELEY, W.Va. — An Isuzu Trooper and a Dodge Plymouth sit badly damaged on the lawn across from Frankfort High School’s football stadium on Wednesday, their front ends smashed together.

Smoke emits from the vehicles as upperclassmen from the school watch the horrific scene unfold before their eyes.

Eight students — passengers in the vehicle — some unconscious, some bloody —  are seen around the rubble. A male, ejected from the Trooper, lies face down on the ground.

What was supposed to be a night of dancing and fun at the prom has turned, in an instant, into an all too common tragedy.

Thankfully, there were no real casualties on Wednesday — the entire accident was staged by Deputy Kam Jeffries, a prevention resource officer, to show students the deadly consequences of drinking and driving.

“She (one the victims involved) won’t drive the car her parents planned on buying her. She won’t make senior week at the beach. She won’t work for the summer,” said the announcer, a Frankfort drama student, during the mock accident.

“Carrie won’t have a career. She won’t meet the man of her dreams and have any children. Carrie will never travel farther than the Fort Ashby cemetery because of the decision she and her friends made on this prom night — a night she and her friends wish they could forget.”

The Fort Ashby and Wiley Ford volunteer fire departments, along with Ridgeley  and Short Gap volunteer fire department ambulances ar-rived on the scene of the mock accident later. 

Crews worked on the eight victims, all of whom weren’t wearing their seatbelts.

Firefighters used the jaws of life to extricate victims from the Plymouth.

One of the female victims was found without a pulse. Medics struggled to place her on a back board. They covered the male who was ejected from the Trooper with a white sheet. 

Medics detected an odor of alcohol. The driver of the Trooper was given a field soberity test and failed.

During the mock accident, the driver of the Trooper was placed under arrest by Deputy First Class W. Seth Weakley of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department.

The doors from the Trooper were removed and Trooper 5 arrived on the scene.

A majority of the firemen and EMS personnel took time off of work to put on the event, according to Jeffries.

“They believe strongly that drinking and driving is a bad decision. These could be the consequences,” said Jeffries refering to the mock accident. “This can happen any weekend, at any time.”

All the emergency personnel worked with one goal in mind — to educate students and prevent future accidents like this from happening, according to Bill Hentosh, Mineral County Office of Emergency Management director.

“The school and the local volunteer fire departments are making a great effort to try to educate people to keep these types of events from happening,” said Hentosh. “I hope the high school students learned something today about what it takes for first responders to save lives. I hope they think about the event that happened today before they go out and party.”

Both of the vehicles were donated from Days Salvage Yard in Ridgeley. The last mock accident was done seven years ago and planning for Wednesday’s mock accident began in February, according to Jeffries.

Jeffries said he had cooperation from the fire departments, Mineral County Sheriff Jeremy Taylor, Joe Riley, principal at Frankfort and the board in making the presentation a success.  

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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