By Nina Crowder
It was an incredibly intense afternoon on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at the Hayden High School as participants took place in a Mock Drunk Driving Accident for the students. The purpose of this mock accident was to show the students how severe accidents involving alcohol can be. Additionally, it gives first responders a chance to practice their skills.
On a clear beautiful night on April 20, 2013 around midnight a group of high school teenagers have left their High School Prom. It would be a night that they would never forget. As they approach an intersection at Highway 177 and Lower Road, there is a horrible collision with two vehicles.
A 911 call goes out to Hayden Police Department. “Oh my gosh, please help, there has been a freaking accident, I don’t know what’s going on, Marisse is not responding, neither is Matt, I think someone went through the windshield, it’s at Highway 177 and Lower Road, please help, I think some people may be dead, I don’t know what to do.” There are many moans, screams and crying. Then you hear the sirens, the Hayden Police department will take approximately one minute to respond. The Pinal County Sheriff’s department and Department of Public Safety are notified.
Upon the arrival of the Hayden Police department, the arriving officer looks over the accident. It is a devastating sight to have to witness such heartache and suffering. Immediately a call for emergency medical assistance is placed. The Winkelman Fire Department is the first dispatched and then the Hayden Fire Department and Dudleyville Fire Department. Continuing to hear screams the police officers at the scene try to comfort the students involved, trying to keep them calm. The students yell and scream for each other and cry with immense pain.
The emergency crews arrive and spring into action. This scene has now become like a war zone. With an accident this large, it takes all the cooperation of the different fire departments and emergency medical technicians. There are four people that are dead upon arrival and many of the other victims need urgent medical attention.
The driver of one of the vehicles is given a field sobriety test including the one leg stand, the touching of finger to nose and walk the line. The police officers determine the driver is intoxicated and start to put her under arrest. She resists but is no match for the officers on duty and is arrested and put in the police car to be taken to jail and booked. The driver is charged with DUI, Aggravated Assault and Manslaughter.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a standardized model for field sobriety testing in 1981. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) uses three tests in combination and the NHTSA recommends that all law enforcement agencies use the standardized program and the associated training. The SFST was designed to help officers measure the appropriateness of making a DUI arrest, not necessarily as evidence to prove that a driver was intoxicated. According to 1998 data from the NHTSA, the combination of three tests used together was only accurate in 91% of DUI cases. The arresting officer is wrong in 9 out of every 100 field sobriety tests and those were the rates for the officers who volunteered DUI arrest records.
During this incident, the Jaws of Life are used to take off the door of one of the vehicles so that they can retrieve the injured. On this same vehicle the firemen must take off the roof of the truck which is cut and folded back so they may retrieve another body (this is one of the dead on arrival victims). As they emergency staff continues to help the students Native Air out of Globe is called and there is an estimated time of arrival of 20 minutes. Once Native Air arrives the most severely injured student is put into the helicopter and flown to the nearest hospital. Due to the extreme conditions and injuries of the students, eight of these students need to be flown out in the helicopter. Shortly after the students are taken to the hospital, the Mortuary Personnel arrive at the scene for the dead bodies.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States including an estimated 10,228 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths last year. Since NHTSA began recording alcohol related statistics in 1982, drunk driving fatalities have decreased 52% from 21,113 in 1982. Since the inception of The Century Council and our national efforts to fight drunk driving fatalities have declined 35% from 15,827 in 1991 (Source: NHTSA/FARS 2011).
Rick Lopez of Asarco helps put these events on to bring awareness to our community members. Many of the Emergency Medical Technicians were Asarco employees; they are trained for accidents that happen on the job and they will respond to an accident in the community if needed. Just a simple phone call to Asarco and they will dispatch their Emergency Medical Services. Many of the Asarco employees are also on the various Fire Departments.
With Prom, Graduations and after parties upcoming, please think about the choices you make before you act upon them. The right choice to make is not to drink and drive; because if you do the least of your worries would be whether or not you go to jail.
Thanks to the Hayden High School students, Asarco, Hayden Fire Department, Winkelman Fire Department, Dudleyville Fire Department, Hayden Police Department, Gila County Sheriff’s Department, Kearny Emergency Medical Technicians and Asarco Medical Technicians for planning and putting on this special Mock Accident! A special thank you to the alumni who also attended: Alyssa Romero, Angel Sanchez, Jordan Garcia and Daniel Acedo of Hayden High School, and Jerry Lopez of Ray High School. Thank you all and be safe!!
Photos by Nina Crowder. View more photos online at http://bit.ly/Y0pob7 and