Students Get Sobering Look at Drunken Driving

Gruesome crash re-enacted on high school parking lot.

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010  |  Updated 4:10 PM CDT
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Students Get Sober Look at Drunken Driving

NBCChicago.com

Complete with police cars, fire trucks, sirens and a sound track of screaming and confusion the aftermath of a drunken driving accident played out in the parking lot of the Northwest side boy's school Tuesday morning

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Students Get Sober Look at Drunken Driving

Parents and school administrators hope a re-enactment of a post-prom accident gives pause to students considering driving after drinking.
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It was a horrific scene, but one that school administrators at St. Patrick High School believed its students needed to see.

Complete with police cars, fire trucks, sirens and a sound track of screaming and confusion, the aftermath of a drunken driving accident played out in the parking lot of the Northwest side boy's school Tuesday morning.

"I think our best defense about alcohol is to educate our kids,” said Brother Konrad Diebold, the school’s president.

Organizer Jennifer Bleicher said what sets this demonstration apart from similar staged crashes around the country is that the students get to see their classmates involved in the carnage of a crash.

"It shows how one little mistake can wind up with such a horrible, horrible end," she said.

The recreation is part of a weeklong series of alcohol awareness events at the high school, which holds its prom this Saturday.

During Tuesday's event, students got to hear from Chris Sandy, a convicted drunk driver who spent 13 years in Georgia prisons for a crash that killed two senior citizens.

Sandy recalled waking up from the crash trapped in the front seat of his mangled car.

"When I heard the words 'There is a fatality on the scene,'" he said, "That’s when I knew I’d killed someone."

Students seemed to get the message.

"I think a presentation like this got through to just about everybody," said senior Matt Garcia.  "You can see what happens even though you think it won’t happen to you." 

Junior Mike Lucas said he was taken aback not by the crash itself, but the legal and emotional difficulties that follow.

"It’s shocking," he said, to see what survivors go through.

Some have criticized the graphic nature of the drunk-driving re-enactments, but St. Francis Hospital emergency room physician Halleh Akbarnia says they can't be graphic enough.

"If this reaches just three or four people, that’s three or four we won’t have to treat or families we won’t have to give bad news to," Akbarnia said.

St. Patrick has tested its student for drug use since 2004.

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