Mock crash ‘hits home’

First the crash, then the consequences play out in front of grandstand full of students

Photo by Deb Gau Marshall firefighters and emergency medical responders from North Memorial Ambulance prepare to transport a Marshall High School student playing the part of a car crash victim during a mock crash event Tuesday morning

MARSHALL — The grandstand at the Lyon County fairgrounds was packed with people. But the crowd was mostly quiet, looking down at a wrecked car and SUV in the arena.

Marshall High School students Daylin Crowley and Chidi Nwakama set the scene for a mock car accident: two vehicles full of teens had collided head-on. One driver had been driving distracted, while another was driving drunk.

What MHS and MATEC students were about to watch was “a wake-up call” for safe driving, Nwakama said.

More than 1,000 people, including students and Marshall community members, attended the mock crash event on Tuesday morning.

“I think it’s a good thing. It kind of hits home, and shows what could happen,” said Morgan Bjella, one of the students participating in the mock crash.

It was a good reminder as MHS celebrates homecoming this week, she said.

Traffic crashes are the second leading cause of death for Minnesota teens behind suicide, event organizers said. Inexperience, risk-taking, distractions and not wearing seat belts are all factors in traffic deaths among teens. Each year, around 25 teens are killed and nearly 3,000 are injured in crashes, organizers said.

MHS Principal Brian Jones said this was the third mock crash event the high school has organized in the past 12 years.

“We try and do the event once every four years so that every student can experience it,” Jones said.

The mock crash took students through the aftermath of a collision, and demonstrated how police, fire department and emergency medical services respond. Six students volunteered to play the parts of crash victims, each with different levels of injury.

“We’re going to make it look like it’s really real,” MHS student Lexie Bednarek said earlier on Tuesday.

Before the mock crash, the student actors met to have their makeup done. North Memorial Ambulance staff helped give Bednarek and fellow students convincing fake cuts and bruises.

Later, as the mock crash scene unfolded, some students were transported from the fairgrounds by ambulance or helicopter. Jacob Buysse, who was playing the part of one of the drivers in the crash, went through a demonstration of sobriety tests with law enforcement, and was placed in the back of a police car.

Bjella, who was playing the part of a person pronounced dead at the crash scene, was carried away in the back of a hearse.

“Basically, I didn’t have my seatbelt on, and I went through the windshield,” Bjella said of her role.

She said it was a part her sister had also played the last time MHS held a mock crash.

Organizing an event as big as the mock crash involves working with a lot of area agencies, Jones said. Members of Marshall ACTS, a student group against alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse, was “the driving force” behind the mock crash, Jones said.

They also had community partners including Southwest Health and Human Services, North Memorial Ambulance, Marshall Police, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department, Marshall Fire Department, the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, Horvath Funeral Services, Studio 1 TV, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, Southwest Coaches and parent volunteers.

“We’ve been working on it since this summer,” Crowley said.


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