Fake DUI crash at Sehome High School teaches serious lessons

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 16, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Students watched in silence as firefighters pried open a badly damaged car using Jaws of Life equipment in the Sehome High School parking lot Wednesday, April 16.

Firefighters and law enforcement were responding to a DUI simulation - a mock two-car crash that killed one passenger, left another with critical injuries, and resulted in the arrest of the drunken driver after she failed a field sobriety test.

Students, some made up with fake bruises and bloody injuries, played out the various parts.

Senior Quinn Donaldson played the drunken driver and was surprised how real it felt to act out the crash with other students.

"It was very emotional because I knew who I hit," she said.

Chris Brown, a resource officer with Bellingham Police Department who works in Bellingham schools, said he hopes seeing the results of a crash up close and in person will help students realize how deadly drunken driving can be.

"These are the worst calls we're ever sent to, especially when it's young people," Brown said.

His biggest hope is that even one youth will make the decision to not drink and drive.

Senior Austin Vosburgh played the deceased passenger, who was thrown through the windshield and onto the car's hood. His father, Jaret Vosburgh, surprised him by showing up to play himself in the enactment.

"It was too real, too close to home," Jaret Vosburgh said. "You don't get to say sorry. You don't get to say goodbye."

The simulation was intended for juniors and seniors as a serious reminder before prom and graduation.

"This is what can happen if you're not smart," said Liz Newcomer, a senior who played one of the witnesses. "Don't take this as a joke."

The Bellingham police and fire departments and Johnson Towing assisted in the demonstration.

Reach Elana Pidgeon at 360-715-2249 or elana.pidgeon@bellinghamherald.com.

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