Superior Substance Abuse Coalition, local First Responders sponsor mock DUI accident – preventing a tragedy

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By Nina Crowder

Copper Area News

Many times we hear or read about a tragedy in our local newspaper or see something broadcast on the nightly news that catches our attention. It’s terrible, but it is something that has happened to someone else. We have the option to turn the page or change the channel. Having an impaired driving crash hit home makes a tremendous impact. In the Superior Mock Accident the community pulled together to simulate a horrific three car drunk driving accident where students play an active role to show how devastating this scenario can be.

The crash is staged, bodies are bloodied and the Superior Police Department arrives and observes the horrific carnage and evaluates the situation, immediately emergency crews are dispatched. Whenever an accident occurs in most rural communities the arrival times of emergency help varies from a few minutes up to about 20 minutes. Every minute someone’s life could be on the line. This scenario had one student dead on arrival and the others needed immediate medical attention. Time is of the upmost importance. During this incident the Jaws of Life are used to take off the roof of one of the vehicles so that they can retrieve one of the injured students. Every injured person is given proper care and concern from everyone helping. The emergency technicians, firemen and rescue crews all work so well together communicating and corresponding to allow a smooth flow of help for each injured person on the scene.

During the crews helping the injured, the Superior Police Department performed a mock field sobriety test on one of the drivers Alyssa Barragan. The police officers determine the driver is intoxicated she is placed under arrest and put in the police car to be taken to jail and booked. The driver is charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and faces possible other charges depending on the injuries of the others involved in the accident and property damages.

Once the emergency crews are there everything seems to happen so fast, people are running everywhere. The people that are able to travel to the hospital by ambulance do so. In this particular accident two people had to be taken by helicopter to the hospital. The first helicopter to arrive is Air Evac, they were in and out with the patient in minutes. Then Native Air arrived shortly after for the next patient. After the patients that could be saved were taken to the appropriate hospitals the Superior Funeral Home arrived to pick up the dead student and shortly after cleaning up the scene of the accident began.

The youngest of the participants of the Superior Mock Accident was nine-year-old Niko Martinez. He said if he was really in an accident he would be screaming his head off, but he hopes he will never be in an accident. Christine Grap, a senior at Superior, said she “feels good that she participated with graduation coming up she hopes students will realize the reality that this can really happen.” Christine said that the incident may help since the participants are peers and knowing each other it may have a greater affect on the students watching. Jesse Aguilar said he felt that the watchers will be able to make better decisions because of the demonstration. Sebastian Martinez played the dead person and said he wouldn’t want to be in this type of accident. All the students that participated did a great job and truly hope their peers learn from this experience.

Chief Cecil Fendley spoke to the audience about the accident. Chief Fendley has been on many accidents and mock accidents in his years of service he truly hopes this event makes an impact on each person to make the right choice whenever you enter a vehicle. Nothing is important as when you get in the car to drive, no texting, phone calls, distractions, anything can cause an accident. Chief Fendley said “this is how it goes down.” Anyone impaired can cause an accident if it’s prescription drugs that can influence your driving ability, fatigue, etc. The reason we do this is because we care about all of you and we truly don’t want to see you in an accident or at the scene of an accident.

Sargent Bartlett addressed the audience by telling this story: He graduated from the Police Academy in 1989 and on August 8, 1990 he and another officer were called to an accident. Two people were involved. Upon arrival, the 23 year old male told them that the female passenger had just quit breathing. She was only 17 years old, a high school cheerleader, from ShowLow. Sargent Bartlett said worked on her, tried CPR, and as he was doing CPR, he could hear bubbles in her chest. He said, “It’s called a death crackle.” It was like blowing into a straw in a cup of water or soda. He blew and blew and tried to save her, but to no avail. The autopsy showed she had seven injuries that would have been considered fatal. This was about 2:00 am. At around 6:00 am his Sergeant sent him to Show Low to perform a “death notification.” The young lady lived with her dad. Sargent Bartlett went to her home, knocked on the house door and asked her father if he had a minute and if he could come in, he said sure. Sargent Bartlett said there is no easy way to tell you this…your daughter was killed in an accident this morning. Her father sat down on the couch and started crying, Sargent Bartlett sat beside him, put him arm around him and cried with him. After a few minutes down the hall came her five year old sister wondering what was wrong. Sargent Bartlett stayed with the family until some friends arrived. This incident has left a lasting impression on his life. The emotional pain and anguish on family members is unthinkable.

The Superior Fire Department and SSAC would like to thank the following for the time and help to put on this Mock Accident: Superior High School Principal and Staff, Southwest Towing, Albo Trucking, Superior Funeral Home, Resolution Copper (aka Rio Tinto), ASARCO Mine Rescue, Dudleyville Fire, Kearny Rescue, Air Evac, Native Air and Queen Valley Fire. A special thanks to Diane Moulage for the wonderful make-up jobs, Elizabeth Magallanez, Bonnie Mariscal, Max Magallanez and Mel Martinez. Thank you patient participants: Jesse Aguilar, Christine Grap, Sebastian Martinez, Niko Martinez and DUI student Alyssa Barragan. Also, the wonderful words of wisdom, shared stories and support from Chief Cecil Fendley, PCSO Richard Drennan, Sargent Bartlett, Officer Lawrence and the Superior Police Department. Great job everyone, please make the right choices. Remember people care and be safe out there!

See more photos online at: http://bit.ly/ZbczLw.

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