This past Saturday marked Allendale High School’s Senior Prom: a night of dancing and new dresses, polished shoes and dinner out.
But local police officers know that for some, prom means pushing boundaries and making choices that have lasting consequences. That’s why they used Friday afternoon to host a “mock crash” at AHS to demonstrate to students the real effects of drinking and driving — and the devastation of the aftermath.
Jake Mucha, Allendale’s school resource officer organized the event long with four students who acted in the crash.
- 1 girl [driver] pretended to die in the crash
- 1 girl [driver] pretended to be an intoxicated driver, causing the crash
- 1 boy [passenger] was “injured” and fled the scene, eventually tracked down by the police K-9 unit
- 1 boy [passenger] had to be extricated from the car
With the help of the Allendale Fire Department and the generosity of Allendale Towing who donated the cars, the police department brought in two vehicles, already crashed, and staged them to resemble a head-on collision. Officer Mucha welcomed all upperclassmen outside and set the scene for them:
“Kaileigh and Sam were on their way to prom after attending a pre-prom party where they were drinking. Coupled with Kaileigh’s intoxicated state and being distracted by her passenger, she crossed the center line on Lake Michigan Drive and ran head-on into the other students. One of the passengers was able to call 911 before passing out.
Police arrived at the scene, quickly followed by an ambulance and the fire department. Just prior to the police arriving, Sam, Kaileigh’s passenger, fled the scene and ran to hide in a nearby porta-john.The police called for the K-9 unit and the dog soon picked up Sam’s scent and led the officer to the porta-john where Sam was hiding.
Of the students hit in oncoming traffic, Aaron was injured and had to be extricated from the car. Officers performed drunk driving tests on Kaileigh before arresting her.”
Officer Mucha explained that the crash, which is demonstrated every-other year, is designed to raise awareness for “any bad decisions that tend to take place, especially this time of year. Specifically, we’ve got prom tomorrow and graduation coming up. We just remind them that accidents can happen, and especially when you couple it with bad decisions or distracted driving, people can get really hurt. People can die.”
To bring home this reality, Allendale’s social worker had also organized the “Every 15 Minutes” program that same day. Throughout the day, a student dressed as the Grim Reaper walked through school, pointing to one student at a time who is “killed.” That student is brought into the hallway, given a black “Every 15 Minutes” t-shirt and had their face painted white. With white faces increasing in numbers throughout the day, the idea was to remind students of the very real impact of drunk driving on young people.
Kaileigh Baia, a junior who participated as a crash actor and pictured above, has taken part in the mock crash before and is passionate about reminding her classmates of the dangers that come with distracted driving and driving under the influence.
“We don’t ever think about the future, of what could happen, we just think ‘Oh, that could never happen to me,’ but it could happen to anybody,” she said.
Officer Mucha is passionate about attacking the issue head on in a pro-active manner rather than merely hoping students will make wise decisions:
“Thank God Allendale has been very fortunate that we have not had any students killed in a car crash since I’ve been here, but we have had crashes and injuries. Occasionally we have drunk driving incidents, but whenever possible we want to get out in front of it and be preventative. Hopefully, we have some sort of impact.”