Live mock crash shows dangers of texting and driving

All photos by Jordan Gerard Unless otherwise noted Spring Grove Police Chief Paul Folz explains the crash scene to the students. Though students knew it was a mock crash, it was still hard to watch.
By : 
Jordan Gerard

It was a crash waiting to happen on the morning of Friday, April 27, at the intersection of 3rd Ave. NW and 1st St. NW.

Two vehicles moving toward each other with one driver texting, not paying attention and then BAM!

The front windshield blew off and an unrestrained front seat passenger went through the windshield. The driver was unconscious, injuries unbeknownst to him as he lay on the road. 

Driver and passenger of the second vehicle injured, but alive. A blast of fire came from the first car.

Soon police, an ambulance crew, firefighters and a helicopter surrounded them. In this case, it was a live mock crash.

The event was set up by Spring Grove Police Chief Paul Folz, and coordinated with efforts from the Spring Grove Ambulance, Spring Grove Fire Department, MedLink Air, Props on Wheels and Hollywood Pyrotechnics.

It took about two months to work out the details of the mock crash. Drivers of the two vehicles were Tim Ladsten and Brett Wiste, who were unharmed during their stunt driving.

Students Alex Folz, Erica Donlan and Kendra Waldenberger played victims. They woke at 6 a.m. on Friday for makeup and to rehearse their parts.

Spring Grove students in grades 7-twelve watched the crash take place. As firefighters and ambulance personnel moved around the scene stabilizing vehicles and getting victims out of cars, Folz explained what was happening to the students.

Though the students knew the crash would happen, it wasn’t what they expected. A few students shed tears at the thought of losing friends or family to a crash.

“It’s nothing that doesn’t happen in real life,” Folz said. “All the things you saw today, they happen.”

The purpose of the mock crash wasn’t to scare students, but to discourage them from texting and/or drinking while driving. It showed them what can potentially happen, and just how many people it took to get them out of a crash.

“If you’re going to reach for the phone when you’re driving, don’t,” Folz told the students. “Your phone, texts are not that important when you’re driving.

“You’re driving a 3,000 pound bomb or missile. You hear your phone, you look down, it’s too late. It takes split seconds for a crash to happen.”

The crash also spoke to the effects of drinking and driving, though Folz hasn’t given any tickets for underage consumption recently in Spring Grove. He thanked the students for not drinking and driving.

“I can’t remember the last time I wrote a ticket for underage drinking and driving,” he said. “Maybe it’s the message coming out or maybe kids just aren’t drinking alcohol. They’re not on the streets in Spring Grove. I hope that’s the trend county wide.”

Folz told the students even if he wasn’t writing tickets, he knew there might be drinking going on, though it was being done responsibly and not driving.

“You’ve got your whole life to drink after you turn 21,” he said. “Between now and 21, don’t do it.”

The last time Spring Grove held a mock crash was in 2002. Sometimes a wrecked car would be brought in to show juniors and seniors the effects of drinking and driving. With prom and graduation parties coming up, it was the opportune moment to show today’s generation of young drivers the effects.

Ambulance Director Kristi Folz said it was good training for the emergency personnel. She explained what injuries the victims had.

Waldenberger’s character had a broken femur and a concussion. That would result in several surgeries and six to eight months of rehab.

Donlan’s character broke an arm and ankle and also had a concussion.

Alex Folz’s character was the driver who was texting and the most critical patient with a broken back. The passenger in his car was a mannequin.

“He might be charged with vehicular homicide because his passenger died,” Folz told the students. “He could be tried as an adult and go to jail.”

Fire Chief Trent Turner said the accident was as real as it could be. The fire department also trained with their new tools.

“Pull over to answer that text message,” he said. “It’s not only traumatic for your family, but we’re likely to know you too, so it’s traumatic for everyone in the community.”

Folz added and said the students are the answer.

“If the firefighters, the EMTs and I don’t have to come out and find you in an accident, I did my job,” he said. 

Principal Nancy Gulbranson and Folz thanked emergency personnel and the volunteers for their time.