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Mock vehicle collision warns students of impaired driving

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A bloodied, lifeless motorcycle rider is sprawled out in the middle of the road, while the dazed driver of another vehicle, suspected of being high on marijuana, frantically calls 911.

"Somebody please help me, there’s been an accident. A girl on a motorcycle just hit my car," the driver shouts into his cell phone as he surveys the mayhem he’s caused.

"I think she’s dead."

Moments later sirens are heard in the distance, and soon emergency crews are at the site of the crash.

Thankfully, the horrific scene was part of a mock crash Wednesday in the parking lot of the Chapel lawn funeral home on Portage Avenue, orchestrated by a team of volunteers to remind more than 200 high school students of the dangers of impaired driving.

RCMP Sgt. Larry Dalman said crashes like these are happening far too often in real life.

"Our hope is that re-enacting a crash like this will show these young people the reality of just how dangerous impaired driving is," said Dalman. "There are still too many young people on our roads who aren’t getting the message, and we hope that this can be an effective way to really make our point."

The mock crash was organized by the Brain Injury Association of Manitoba and conducted with the help of the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, fire and paramedic personnel and staff from Chapel Lawn.

If the horrified looks on the faces of the high school students from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate, Tec Voc, College Louis Riel and Fisher Branch were any indication, the exercise had a profound effect.

"That was very graphic," said Maygen Louttit, 18, from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. "I was practically in tears because being so close to the crash made it easy to imagine that the victim was a friend or a family member."

Her classmate, Ashley Hrenchuk, 17, was also moved by the grim scene.

"I have never driven impaired and I never will," Hrenchuk offered, "but after seeing what can happen when people make bad choices, I’m also going to do my best to make sure none of my friends ever do it, either."

That’s the message Gerald Knutson, assistant manager of Chapel Lawn, hopes the exercise drives home.

"When there is a funeral for a young person who has died as a result of impaired driving it is always a tragedy, but it is also always preventable," said Knutson. "This may seem like a shocking way to make the point that impaired driving kills, but if it we can shock young people into realizing how dangerous it is, maybe we can save someone’s life."

The crash scenario included the removal of the ‘dead’ motorcyclist’s body by funeral home attendants, firefighters cutting the door off the vehicle and police officers arresting the young male driver after determining he was under the influence of drugs.

"Actually seeing everything that happens in an accident and how many people are involved really opened my eyes," added Hrenchuk. "It was so realistic.

"When they zipped up that body bag and loaded that girl into that black van, wow, that’s something that will stick with me for a long time."




Updated on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 2:40 PM CDT: corrects typo

5:54 PM: Adds writethrough

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