When Parker Webb was pondering what service to provide for his Eagle Scout project, he knew he wanted to do something out of the box.
“I knew I didn’t want to do something generic. Everyone plants trees, does everything like that,” Parker said. “I wanted to do something different.”
Parker, a student at Spanish Fork High School, spent the last year and a half working with the Utah Highway Patrol, Spanish Fork Police Department, AirMed and several other public safety agencies to orchestrate a mock DUI-related crash, an immensely realistic demonstration of the impacts of a DUI-related crash.
Police and safety officials pulled out all the stops Wednesday, especially since this doubled as a training for the officers and paramedics involved. Patrol vehicles surrounded the mock crash site, acting victims were carried away on gurneys with stage blood covering their faces, and an AirMed helicopter even transported one victim from the scene.
“It’s exciting to see this play out,” Parker said before the crash. “There were a lot of kids at school who I told a brief summary, and they kind of seem excited, but they don’t even know what’s about to happen.”
Immediately after the crash scenario began, Austin Baum, a senior and the acting drunk driver in the accident, stumbled out of one of the two wrecked vehicles with large stage cuts on his face and exhibiting signs of impairment.
Troopers conducted field sobriety tests on Austin and after he failed them, arrested him, transporting him from the scene.
Hannah Daniels, a senior who acted as a dead passenger, said she believes drunk driving is rarely understood by other high school students and that the mock crash was an excellent way to drive the message home.
“This is a really fatal thing,” Hannah said. “We shouldn’t do any of it because there are consequences.”
Trooper Blake Bradford with the UHP was emotional when he saw the crash because of how frequently he sees the real deal.
“We want these kids to know what it’s like,” Bradford said, holding back tears. “We go to bed every night, and these are the kinds of things we see. We want these kids to make it home to their moms and dads and that’s why this is so special to the highway patrol.”
Bradford said if one bad habit of distracted or dangerous driving could be changed by the crash or if one student would refrain from drinking and driving, then the whole scenario was worth it. And the impact could be seen clearly on the faces of the 800 students who watched solemnly as tarps were placed over the scarred faces of their peers acting as deceased passengers.
Bradford was even more overjoyed that it wasn’t a teacher but a student who had the initiative to organize the crash scenario and educate his own peers on just how deadly impaired driving can be.
“This has been a really great community to work with. It’s just been really special,” Bradford said.
As victims were whisked away into ambulances or onto the chopper and Austin was carried away to a trooper’s vehicle in shackles, Parker watched from the sidelines, smiling while knowing that someone may have left with a little more understanding of dangerous driving.
“This is not just about drinking and driving or being under the influence,” Parker said. “You have to pay attention to the daily things that distract you from your driving. You always have to be alert while driving no matter what.”