GALION — Northmor High School was the site of a horrific scene last Friday.
Six young people were involved in a violent crash on a rain-soaked road that left a pickup truck overturned and a four-door sedan crushed. Five people were transported to area hospitals with various injuries. All were bloodied following the terrible collision.
One young man, a passenger in the pickup truck, lost his life. His mother was sobbing uncontrollably after arriving on the scene, while the young woman who was driving the sedan repeatedly wailed, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
It was a sobering experience for onlookers.
Fortunately, it was a mock crash event hosted annually by Northmor High School. No one lost their lives. No one was injured. But hopefully, with prom season in full swing and the end of the school year fast approaching, the high school students who stood and watched the drama unfold will use caution the next time they get behind the wheel.
“We roll this out every year before prom to show the kids that there are dangers when they’re traveling on the roadways,” said Morrow County Sheriff John L. Hinton. “It’s impactful. This year’s scenario was one that I pitched, with kids riding in the back of a pickup truck, and the truck flips over. It’s something that people don’t think about.”
In addition to the sheriff’s office, the Iberia Joint Fire District, Mount Gilead Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, Morrow County EMS, and Snyder Funeral Homes of Mount Gilead participated in the mock crash.
“It’s about letting the students know about the importance of the awareness of distracted driving and keeping an eye on the road and off the cellphone,” said Ryan Bash of Iberia Joint Fire District.
Trooper Kamal Nelson from the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Mount Gilead Post said he uses traffic stops involving teenage drivers as teachable moments for the young people.
“We let them know that we hope we don’t have to encounter them under those circumstances again,” Nelson said. “I’ve even made the comment to teenagers that maybe me stopping you right now has saved your life from having an accident up the road. It isn’t always about writing a ticket, it’s about educating them right there on that traffic stop. We want them to be aware. Okay, you made a mistake, no harm done. You didn’t hurt anybody this time, but the next time you do this, something could happen.”
Northmor senior Cole Dille played the role of the deceased passenger in the pickup truck. He said it’s important to him to help his classmates be aware of the dangers they face on local roadways.
“It puts into perspective the importance of not texting and driving or not drinking and driving,” Dille said. “We learn about how the police and fire departments respond to accidents and what they do.”
Jamie Brucker, a licensed funeral director with Snyder Funeral Homes of Mount Gilead, said he and his staff represented the “end stage” of the mock crash, placing the student who portrayed the deceased passenger in a hearse.
“We bring out our cot. We take the student into our care. There’s a mom who mourns over the cot as we wheel past all the students,” Brucker said. “We just hope that makes an impactful impression on them that that could be them, or their friend who’s a student here that’s on that cot. Hopefully, we create a lasting impression in their mind to be careful when they go to prom.”