MASSENA - Glass and metal shattered near the curb of Massena Central High School. The two-car accident left a passenger lying on the hood of one vehicle, ejected through the windshield. Emergency crews sawed off the other vehicles roof to reach some of the victims.
The carnage was not real, but instead a DWI drill meant to show hundreds of Massena High School juniors and seniors the dangers of drinking and driving. Students looked on as the drunk driver, played by MHS student Cullen Baines, paced frantically after realizing his decisions caused harm to others. The Massena Rescue Squad, volunteer fire department and village police all raced to the scene to tend to the several injured.
Police led Mr. Baines away in handcuffs to a patrol car, where he stayed for the rest of the drill.
Its not a very good feeling knowing youre trapped in that car, he said of his mock arrest. Its your fault and youre imprisoned ... In reality, it happens all the time.
Massena High School had not hosted a mock DWI crash in several years, Principal Patrick Farrand said. This was the first time the current students had seen such an event at the school.
Its nice to give kids a reality check of whats going on, he said. If they make the wrong choice, this is what could happen.
Senior Jessielee Cole played the teenager lying on the car hood after the accident. The students had rehearsed the night before and arrived at the high school early Thursday morning to receive makeup for their injuries. Ms. Cole was impressed by the way the emergency responders treated the accident.
You could tell they were worried and were trying to do their best, she said. It was still pretty scary.
The drill left an impression on many of the students watching behind yellow crime tape. Mr. Farrand said the drill was done in the days prior to the prom in order to send a message.
The accident scene stayed up through the week as a reminder to all students.
Its pretty surreal,senior T.J. Brown said. Even in the drills, they dont mess around .They take it seriously ...It definitely makes me think twice.
The St. Lawrence County Stop DWI program, and Norfolk and Tri-Town volunteer rescue squads also assisted at the scene. Butchs Auto donated the vehicles in the crash.
Massena Rescue Squad President Eric Duchscherer said the event helps better prepare his company each time a serious accident rolls around in real life.
Its a wonderful opportunity for us to do training for our own folks, he said.
The legal blood alcohol count limit while driving in New York is 0.08. But many drivers can be impaired by just one drink, Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said.
All the people involved in this drill today have one single purpose, and that is to send the message to you that we want you to enjoy the prom, enjoy graduation and celebrate life but we strongly encourage you to make good, smart and safe decisions, he said.
Please do not become someone like this.