by Brenda Maguire
Tri County Record Correspondent
The senior class of Twin Valley High School sits in silence on the lawn by the lower parking lot watching six of their classmates after a fatal drunk driving accident.
One car, with three students inside, is completely overturned while the other is right side up with one student hanging out of the windshield covered in fake blood and two standing outside of it.
On Friday at 12 p.m. the Caernarvon Township Police Department assisted Twin Valley H.S. in their yearly mock DUI car accident before prom weekend.
“It’s a learning experience for the kids to see firsthand what could happen to them with drinking and driving,” said Police Chief Paul Stolz.
Before the students arrived Travis Stacey of Stacy Towing set up two cars in the lower parking lot. Police Officers Kyle Tranovich and Chad Eberly and Chief Nathan Spece of Elverson E.M.S. helped the students in the mock accident get into the cars.
“We try to teach the dangers of certain things that can happen and that are what it is today. We hope that I don’t get any calls over the weekend that there’s an accident with any of the prom goers,” said Chief Stolz.
All of the student participants were seniors. Kyle Edwards and Lauren Lampe were killed in the crash. Katie Schnably, Kelsey Deighan and Kyle Kauterman were injured and Josh Kurtz was the drunk driver.
“We usually try to get students that are well known among the senior class. It’s usually students that we think are role models among their peers,” said Sara Cipolla, an information technology teacher who helps run the program.
The mock DUI started with Kurtz being questioned by Officer Eberly. Two fire trucks and two ambulances arrived shortly after. They pronounced two of the students dead and continued to rescue the remaining two out of the overturned car. The LifeLine helicopter was the last to arrive.
“I really think you have to grab these kids and shake them,” said Joseph O’Donnell of North Central Highway Safety Network. “You have to jolt them.”
During the rescue, Officer Eberly did sobriety tests on mock drunk driver Kurtz. The rescue team had to shatter the glass of the back window of the over turned car to rescue Kauterman. They had to remove both doors to retrieve Deighan who would have been taken off by helicopter. For safety reasons, the helicopter took off with a stretcher with sheets on it.
“It brings more of a sense of reality. It’s a visual and tangible thing they can see,” said Andrew Frey, a Physical education teacher who assisted Cipolla in the planning of the mock DUI. “Having the ambulances, having the fire trucks, having the sounds and seeing all that stuff, it makes it more real.”
For the students, taking part in the mock crash had a higher impact on them than simply watching a video or being lectured.
“There was more impact for me to actually be in the situation. Since our class is so small, I think everyone knows us so, you see your friends and it’s like, ‘What if this actually happened to us?’” said Deighan, a resident of Honey Brook. “So, it’s more real life and it’s more relatable when you see it happening to people you know.”
Lampe was pronounced dead early into the rescue and was dragged to off to the side with a sheet over her body so she was unable to see the rest of the efforts.
“I was sitting over there and hearing everything that was going on around me but wasn’t actually able to see. Knowing that they were actually in the car was frightening,” she said.
Following the mock DUI, seniors were taken into the auditorium to watch a video about drinking responsibly followed by a question and answer session with Officer Tranovich, Chief Spece and Deputy Fire Chief Corey Hostetler of the Twin Valley Fire Department.
Tranovich addressed the seniors, “So, just remember, for Prom, this summer, when you guys have graduation parties and all that good stuff, think about it before you decide to take those keys in your hand if you’ve had a couple drinks.”