A sobering dramatic presentation

Published 9:52 pm Saturday, May 3, 2014

With prom season already in progress and Suffolk’s public schools about to join the party, as it were, juniors and seniors at Nansemond River High School had a chance last week to experience a powerful demonstration of one of the greatest dangers they face as they head out onto the roads with their dates: drunken drivers.

Suffolk police, sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors helped set up the mock DUI on Friday. The scenario included a head-on collision between two sedans that resulted in the “death” of one popular NRHS student, grave injuries to others and the mock arrest of the one who portrayed the drunken driver that caused the staged accident.

Fire and rescue workers responded to the scene, the Nightingale air ambulance was called to whisk a “critically injured” teen to the hospital, and a hearse served as the final transportation for the student who had “died” in the ersatz crash. The student portraying the drunken driver was led away in handcuffs.

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It was a realistic portrayal of the initial moments following such a tragedy, and organizers hope the event creates a memory powerful enough to convince students not to take the chance of creating an even more powerful and devastating memory this prom season.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and about a quarter of those involve an underage drinking driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash.

The statistics are — or should be — sobering, even for people at an age that is known for its false sense of invincibility. But even more somber is the message of life’s ephemeral nature that teens get with the news of the loss of a classmate. If the drama of a school presentation such as the mock DUI helps get that message across, then it will have accomplished its purpose.

Prom night is one of the most memorable nights of many students’ high school experience. Abstaining from alcohol — and refusing to ride with someone who hasn’t — will help ensure all the memories from this year’s proms will be good ones.