PAHS students given sobering reminder of dangers of drunk driving on eve of prom

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The seniors at Punxsutawney Area High School (PAHS) who
want to keep it real received a large dose of reality in regard to the consequences you face when you drink and drive or text and drive at the Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) annual mock crash held Friday in the parking lot behind the school.

Trooper Matt Powell of the Punxsutawney—based Pennsylvania State Police spoke to the students once the very realistic portrayal had concluded for another year.

Powell said he believes the annual program does indeed have an impact on the students as they prepare to attend the prom — which will be held tonight at the Punxsutawney Country Club — with the hopes that the event will help prevent them from drinking and driving.

"Even the kids who had no intention of drinking alcohol or doing drugs still have a responsibility of not getting in a car when one of their friends decides to drink and drive," Powell said, adding that the goal is not to have any DUIs from a crash or even an arrest.

"Unfortunately, the statistics tell us differently," he said. "Of course, what transpired here today is pretend, and it was the first time I've been able to see the vehicles up close for the mock crash," Powell said, adding that many times, people don't see the mangled vehicles as they are being towed away.

"The students don't get to see the vehicles all mangled up with people still in them and crying," he said. "In the mock crash, the students get to see up close and personally, when the firefighters are cutting the car apart, the ambulance putting them on stretchers or a deceased student is placed in a body bag and transported to the morgue.

"This is the first time these young kids are going to see it," Powell continued, adding that he hopes it impresses on them how serious it is when you add drugs and alcohol to the mix.

The accidents always seem much worse when those factors are the ingredients in a crash, he said.

Sarah Pack, family consumer science teacher and advisor for SADD, said they began two months ago by making the initial calls to those who have been involved.

"The last few weeks, we did some additional calling, making sure our sponsors and participants were on board for the mock crash," Pack said, adding that, this year, there were students from the DuBois Business College’s movie making program — Bryan Houdeshell, Jr., and Cody Mater — who did the makeup for the crash victims.

Pack said the mock crash may not seem like it affects every student, but it does affect every one of them, at least a little bit.

"I hope it influences the choices they're going to make (tonight) before and after the prom," Pack said.

Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan said the mock crash was meant to emphasize the importance of making smart choices and not drinking and driving, especially after prom and graduation.

Angela Cesario, career ed and business teacher and SADD advisor, thanked those who contributed to this year's mock crash:

• Bryan Smith, Punxsutawney Fire Department chief, and the members of the Central, Lindsey and Elk Run fire companies for their hard work in setting up the crash scene.

• Denny Rebuck, South Side Service, who provided the cars.

• Trooper Matt Powell, Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police, for the presentation he gave to the students.

Cesario also thanked The Punxsutawney Spirit for its coverage and Brenda
Shumaker of the Shumaker Funeral Home, Inc. in Punxsutawney for her participation.