At 12:57 p.m. Thursday, May 1, the horrific sound of crushing metal and breaking glass echoed through the parking lot of Princeton High School.
Moments later firefighters from Princeton and Baldwin Township lifted a tarp to reveal two smashed vehicles. A red coupe was occupied by three people. A fourth, a teenage female, had been ejected through the front windshield. She was wearing what appeared to be a prom dress now covered in blood. She appeared to be lifeless. Right of the coupe was a Suzuki SUV. Inside were a female driver and a male passenger.
As cries came from the back seat of the coupe, an emergency services radio blared out the news that a two-vehicle crash had occurred. Sirens from fire trucks and police cars were then heard faintly in the distance, with their piercing sounds getting closer and closer to the high school as the seconds ticked off the clock.
Princeton High School students witnessed a mock crash on Thursday, May 1 — two days before prom. It’s an all too familiar story this time of year. Prom and graduation provide high school students the opportunity to party. Then the day after, we learn the tragic story of the teenager who needlessly lost their life.
The mock crash was designed to be as realistic as possible with the hope that it will have an impact on the students. The event was hosted by Students Against Destructive Decisions, SADD, formerly Students Against Drunk Driving.
To help make the message hit home, beer cans were scattered around the SUV, as was a 12-pack of beer. The driver of the SUV wandered around in a confused state, presumably under the influence after some prom night partying.
With hundreds of students gathered in the high school parking lot, ambulances, fire department personnel and police arrived on the scene. They were soon joined by deputies from the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol.
Emergency medical technicians began to treat the injured. Firefighters secured the vehicles and then began the process of removing the trapped victims. The driver of the vehicle that caused the crash suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and was given a field sobriety test by a responding State Trooper. The driver was later handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the trooper’s squad car.
Some mock crash victims had possibly serious injuries, and a North Ambulance helicopter was dispatched. Firefighters scrambled to extricate a victim from the back seat of the coupe using an extrication tool like the Jaws of Life and then hurriedly worked to get the victim on the helicopter, which had landed in the high school parking lot.
The mock crash ended on a solemn note when a hearse from Williams Dingmann Funeral Home arrived on scene.
The deceased crash victim was lifted by firefighters and placed in a black body bag and then placed on a gurney. The body was then placed in the hearse, which drove off as students quietly looked on.
The event used six student actors and dozens of emergency services personnel.