“They all think it’ll never happen to them,” Sara Rust, an outreach coordinator with Mercy Health, said. “If we affect one person, we save one person. It opens their eyes.”
On the afternoon of May 9, a wreck occurred at the Camdenton High School. This wreck, however, was staged for maximum impact.
The Camdenton Police Department, along with multiple other agencies, staged a docudrama at CHS to give juniors and seniors a good idea of what could happen should they choose to drink and drive. This year’s show went all out to drive the point home.
CPD Officer Chris Williams was the coordinator for this year’s event, and he said that every student that goes through CHS sees the docudrama.
“It’s done every other year for the juniors and seniors,” he said. “All students will watch it at some point. We try to do it before prom and graduation.”
The experience is as real as they can make it, using actual cars that have been in an accident, incredibly realistic makeup, spilled beer and plenty of fake blood.
“I’ve had students tell me how much it affected them,” said Williams. “They say it impacts them. Sometimes they come up and relay personal stories of family and friends that have been hurt by drunk driving.”
The teaching moment begins with one of the accident victims regaining consciousness and calling 911. Then the sirens begin. A CPD car pulls up to the scene, and immediately calls in the Missouri Highway Patrol, ambulances and the fire department.
The caller runs around the wrecked vehicles, looking at the wounds of the victims and yelling at the drunk driver. As the various agencies come to the scene in their trucks and vans, the drunk driver is led to a police car in handcuffs. As she becomes aware of what she has done, she screams and cries.
Then come the civilians, driving upon the scene and seeing people they know gravely wounded and not responsive. They scream and yell, getting in the way but not able to help. On the ground near one of the cars lies a girl, dead on impact.
A life flight helicopter flies in as the firefighters use the jaws of life to dismantle twisted metal and pull the wounded free. Finally, after all of the victims have been removed, a hearse pulls up to collect the body.
Dalton Reiter, CHS student and ‘screamer” for the show, feels the docudrama is something that has to be done.
“I feel like it’s very impactful,” he said. “It’s something that will be difficult to watch for some of the students.”
Kylee Compton played the girl who died in the crash, and said that it’s a very interesting experience for the student body.
“I think it does have a big impact because we grew up together, and seeing someone like that is very impactful.”
After the main event, the students gather in the auditorium to have a wake for Kylee. Obituary pamphlets with her picture and life story are passed out. A coffin sits on the stage, covered in flowers with Kylee’s picture behind it. The drunk driver reads Kylee’s obituary, genuine tears falling as she considers the death of her close friend.
Sara Rust, an outreach coordinator with Mercy Health, said that it’s a great experience for the kids. She and her coworkers have staged eight of these docudramas this year, covering Springfield and the surrounding areas. In the auditorium, Rust takes time to do a brief interview with all of the actors in the docudrama.
Each and every one relays to their classmates how much different it is to actually experience the real deal. Preparation only goes so far, they say. When the sirens are going and the machines are cutting apart the cars, you kind of panic. It’s far more real than they anticipated.
“They all think it’ll never happen to them,” Rust said. “If we affect one person, we save one person. It opens their eyes.”