PICKERING, La. -- Pickering High School recently held a staged prom car accident presentation -- alongside first responders -- on campus in Pickering, Louisiana, to promote safe driving to its students as prom season approaches.
The simulation featured four PHS student actors at the scene of the staged car crash on prom night, with realistic makeup showing the extent of their "injuries." The totaled car they were in was surrounded by beer bottles, with one of the "passengers" declared "dead on arrival" with her body staged over the hood of the car through a broken windshield. The actors were 10th grade students.
"Prom and graduation are dangerous times for our student drivers. The whole idea was to show the kids or to make it real that they are not 10 feet tall or bulletproof," said Jerome Henson, Pickering High School principal. "There are real consequences to their actions -- predominantly, if they are distracted with texting or if they are drunk while driving."
The mock drill was conducted by PHS, the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office, Sandy Hill Fire and Rescue, Med Express Ambulance Service, Labby Funeral Home, the Vernon Parish Coroner's Office and Harvey's Auto Parts.
Students also witness the "drunk driver" of the simulation "arrested" after failing a field sobriety test. All passengers in the car were attended to by first responders, and the Vernon Parish Coroner's Office handled the body of the passenger who did not survive the crash. Labby Funeral Home then drove the body away in a hearse. And while the situation was not real, Henson said it impacted the students and taught them a valuable life lesson.
"We had several students who were emotional from seeing their classmates out there because it was very real," Henson said. "These kids hear about things, but it's not until they experience it or simulate an experience before it becomes real to them."
Henson hopes the students learned how much of an impact their decisions can have on their lives.
"This is real life and we really hope they took away that not only are they affecting their lives with the decisions that they make, but also all of their friends," Henson said. "They're also affecting their friends not involved in the wreck with their loss. And also, they are affecting the other parties in the other vehicles. Dead is dead. You can't come back from that."
He said this drill was important because he cares about the students at PHS and wants them to be safe.
"It just really boils down to, we invest in these kids," Henson said. "We love these kids like they are our own, and we want to do anything we can do to protect them."