Re-enactment makes DUI death personal

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Suffolk Fire and Rescue workers place a seriously wounded passenger on a stretcher during a DUI re-enactment at Nansemond River High School May 25 that showed students what can happen if they decide to drink and drive.

Nansemond River High School was a blur of red lights and emergency vehicles on Wednesday as law enforcement and firefighters rushed to the scene of an accident involving a drunk driver.

Fortunately, it was only a re-enactment of an accident, set up to show Nansemond River students the realities of driving drunk.

The program was a collaborative effort between Nansemond River Crimestoppers advisors Renee Parker and Officer Andre Weaver, and Suffolk’s emergency services, including the police, fire department and ambulance workers.

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They also worked with community businesses Chips Wrecking Service, Lowe’s and Crocker Funeral Home for the reenactment.

Weaver said the accident was created to show the students what can happen if they decide to drink and drive. He said it was especially important with the school’s prom coming up next week.

“My main concern for my kids is that they stay safe,” Weaver said. “I want the kids to be as safe as they can be. I’ve got 1,400 kids; I treat them as my own.”

All of the school’s juniors and seniors watched as on a side yard near the football field, two cars sat beat-up and broken, with one vehicle’s front end shoved under the other’s back.

Police announced a play-by-play of how the scene would play out in real life, including everything from Suffolk Fire and Rescue’s arrival to the arrest of the drunk driver.

All of the consequences of a DUI accident were addressed.

A police officer actually arrested Shannon Evans, the student playing the drunk driver, handcuffed him, charged with driving under the influence and placed him in a makeshift jail in the school’s cafeteria.

Of the eight people in the cars, three passengers required serious medical attention.

Two of those passengers were so seriously hurt, they were placed on stretchers and stabilized by emergency medical technicians before the Nightingale air ambulance touched down on the school’s field to carry the girls away.

To add to the severity of the re-enactment, there was a fatality in the accident. Ambulance workers took his pulse, and when they pronounced him dead, he was placed in a hearse and driven away from the scene.

Junior Rebecca Bennett, who was one of the injured passengers, said she hopes the program will have a positive impact on students.

“Everyone needs to know what can happen, so they make the right decisions,” she said.

It also showed how much the driver’s life can change as a result of an accident. After the fatality was reported, the driver also was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Sophomore Matthew Boone, who portrayed the victim in the car accident, said he thinks it’s important for his fellow students to understand the consequences of drinking and driving.

“I see some students who do whatever they want,” he said. “This will warn them against what will happen.”

Students were asked to sign a pledge not to drink and drive prior to the prom.