The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

May 3, 2014

Students get glimpse of real-life tragedy

CAMANCHE — Dozens of Camanche High School students watched in dismay on Friday as three of their classmates were carried away on a stretcher and one was arrested at the scene of a fatal car accident.

The accident however, was only a reenactment, showing those students what could happen if they decide to partake in impaired driving during tonight’s high school prom festivities.

Operation Prom Night is a nationally recognized drinking and driving prevention program that utilizes realistic scenarios of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking. While the scenarios themselves are completely fictionalized, local emergency responders do what they can to make the event as real as possible to drive home the message of the dangers of impaired driving to high school students.

“We are trying to remind the kids that if there are bad decisions made there are usually bad outcomes,” Camanche Assistant Police Chief Bill Lodge said. “Hopefully we accomplished some of that today.”

Camanche High School has participated in the mock prom night accident every two years for more than 20 years, and although he isn’t sure if the reenactment has contributed to it, Principal Chuck Wiebenga said the school has never faced a real-life vehicular trauma on prom night.

Whether the reenactment is a factor in that is one thing, but what is more important to him and everyone else involved is making students aware of what one bad decision can do to change theirs and other people’s lives.

“Our purpose is to give kids the opportunity to see the extreme amount of physical and emotional stress that can be brought on from a scene like that,” he said. “We want them to be aware of the consequences of what can happen when drinking and driving.”

With the assistance of the Camanche Police Department and Camanche Fire Department, students witnessed two of their classmates being pulled from a car using the Jaws of Life, one undergoing a field sobriety test and subsequently being arrested for drinking and driving, and even one girl being placed in a body bag and carried away in a funeral service hearse after being pronounced “dead” at the scene.

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