WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) – Emergency crews in Columbus County staged a simulated fatal wreck Thursday in hopes of preventing real ones.
The demonstration at Whiteville High School was part of a program called VIP for a VIP, Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person.
The intent is to expose students to the sights, sounds and smells of a fatal vehicle accident in an effort to promote safe driving.
"They get the sirens coming in. They get smell of diesel from the ambulances and the crash trucks and the fire trucks," said Darian Tyler, a paramedic with Whiteville Rescue. "They get the sound of the victims and the friends and family who come up screaming."
In the scenario, a mother becomes combative after learning of the death of her son – a high school student who wasn't wearing his seat belt when he slammed into a utility pole going 55 miles per hour.
Officers say the scene is all too real, especially this time of year.
"Spring break, prom and the summer. That's when all these kids are going to be out there experiencing new things and trying to have a good time and not caring a bit about traffic safety," said Brandon Batten, a deputy with the Columbus County Sheriff's Office.
VIP for a VIP covers the many factors facing teen drivers, including alcohol, speeding and texting.
"I could not even imagine one of the people sitting beside me not being with me when I graduate all because of drinking and driving [or] texting and driving," said Lauren Lynn, a senior at Whiteville High School.
Lynn and some of her friends have offered to give rides to classmates who shouldn't be behind the wheel.
She believes Thursday's program will have an impact.
"I heard so many people talk about how it affected them and how they want to change their ways now," Lynn said. "And that's what this program is supposed to do."
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