WEIRTON - Just a few days before their prom, upperclassmen at Weir High School were warned of the dangers of drinking and driving, and witnessed the possible results of such a decision.
While the school's juniors and seniors watched, one of their classmates was taken into custody by Weirton Police after admitting to drinking and driving. One other was being treated for injuries. Another two were pronounced dead at the scene.
The mock accident scenario was put together as part of the school's prom week activities, and included discussions on drinking and driving and distracted driving.
"Myself and the school administration are very concerned," Principal Dan Enich explained.
Weir High will hold its prom on Friday. While the school provides transportation to and from the event, Enich said there still are concerns about what could happen after prom is over.
According to Weirton Police Officer Steve DiBacco, who serves as the prevention resource officer at the high school, the drill has been held at Weir High for seven years through the cooperation of the school, Weirton Police Department, Weirton Fire Department, Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad and STAT MedEvac. Vehicles for the scenario were provided by Green's Towing.
RESPONDING — Paramedics and emergency medical technicians from the Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad work to treat a “victim” from Wednesday’s mock accident at Weir High School. The scenario was put together for the school’s junior and senior classes two days before the Weir High prom to warn of the dangers of drinking and driving. -- Craig Howell
"We do it every year," DiBacco said. "We try to make it as realistic as possible."
DiBacco explained while much of the focus is on the dangers of drinking and driving, any kind of distracted driving also can contribute to such an accident, noting with prom, graduation parties and nice weather younger drivers are eager to get out on the road.
"Your vehicle is a 2,000 to 4,000 pound weapon," DiBacco said. "You have to respect it."
Fire Chief Jerry Shumate discussed an accident from when he was in high school which resulted in the death of a family member, as well as one involving multiple Weir High students.
"The look on the parents' faces when they come to the back of an ambulance to identify their child is something I will never forget," Shumate said.
WAARS paramedic Carol Lyons relayed a more personal story, from 46 years ago when her son was killed by a drunk driver just before Christmas.
"He was killed while he was waiting to be deployed," she said, explaining her son had joined the Air Force after graduating from high school.
Lyons encouraged the students to think carefully before taking any action, considering all of the possible consequences of their decisions.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)