The surreal scene of two crushed cars sitting still in the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy parking lot cast a pall among the crowd of students watching, just days before their prom. The occupants of the cars were groaning, bleeding and one was still. Dead.
Students were riveted by the too real scene that played out in front of them. While those in the cars were drama students at the school, students were upset with the scene that had their friends covered in blood, screaming and making the simulation seem as though it were real.
This was the intention of Wilson County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Ray Justice. For the past several weeks he's been coordinating the mock crash with the Wilson Emergency Management Agency and every school in the county.
"It thrills me that the parents, schools and Sheriff's Department have got so much passion for students in Wilson County to keep them safe and allow us to put this program on," said Justice at the scene of the mock crash. "The partnership with WEMA, Vanderbilt University and Hamblin's Wrecker Service is very much appreciated."
The aim of the simulation – that seemed all too real with paramedics and Lifeflight coming to transport a student – is to let students know what happens when they drink, or text, while driving.
Most of the students stood riveted by the re-inactment of something that might happen to them if they are distracted while driving. Ambulances arrived at the scene and WEMA paramedics surveyed the wreck and assisted those still alive.
Students watched as WEMA firefighters brought out stretchers to load the students who needed life-saving attention. One student, the driver of one of the cars, was eventually zipped into a body bag.
"It's really weird to see this actually happen," said Amy Hicks, an 11th grader.
English teacher Jennifer Christensen was moved by the scene.
"This is a good reminder about the mortality of life," she said. "They see it on the faces of their friends."
Deputy Jason Anderson took part in the simulation.
"Education is important, no doubt about it," he said. "To see your friend laying on the ground is more of an impact, to see the reality of the situation. I've seen this in real life."
Anderson said he got into this line of work and is passionate about it after witnessing a little girl become a tragic victim of a DUI crash.
After the simulation, the students were ushered in the chapel where Justice had them close their eyes and he walked them through a verbal scenario of getting a phone call from their best friend's mother telling them her daughter, and their friend, was dead because she was driving drunk.
"I did see some tears today," said Justice. "We just hope this program works, we feel it does."
WCSO will conduct similar mock crashes at other schools in the county in the next few days.