On Wednesday afternoon just after 2 p.m., local first responders staged a mock accident scenario at Smith-Cotton High School, 2010 Tiger Pride Blvd., to emphasize the dangers of impaired and distracted driving as an awareness campaign before this Saturday's S-C Prom.

This presentation was witnessed by about 600 high school juniors and seniors.

The dramatic and realistic portrayal was also a good drill for first responders. About 40 people took part in the scenario, and included Sedalia Police, Sedalia Fire, PCAD, BRHC and nursing students from SFCC.

One car was upside down with someone trapped inside, while another victim was ejected. The second car had someone trapped in the back seat, and SFD used their power tools to literally cut the roof off to extricate a young woman. The driver was portrayed by S-C Junior Emma Lane. She played the part of a distracted driver. Her character, who was on the phone at the time, “had a few drinks."

Lane's on-stage experience includes improv, as well as show choir and speech & debate. She will be a candidate for graduation in May of 2023.

When asked if the scenario was what she expected it would be, Lane responded “Yeah, it was pretty crazy, everything looked very real. The makeup was really good. And the scene just seemed so realistic, especially with the car flipped, windows broken, fire trucks coming and everything. And then me getting put in handcuffs,” Lane recalled.

Lane admitted she did get a bit emotional at one point during the proceedings, which was witnessed by her fellow S-C Tiger students.

“A little bit, because one time I got into a car accident and it kinda just brought up the memories. And I was like, oh my gosh, this really does feel real,” Lane told KSIS.
The second part of the event took place in the Heckart Performing Arts Center and replicated a dramatic scene in the Bothwell ER Department. Three caskets were placed in the lobby as students exited the theatre with portraits of the “deceased” situated next to each one. This was the first such mock scenario at Smith-Cotton since 2018.

Lane's character ultimately died in the ER. A woman who played Lane's mother did an excellent job of illustrating the raw emotion of losing a loved one due to a car accident after being told the sad news by Bothwell's Dr. Stanley Wilson, MD.

Upon conclusion of the powerful on-stage scenario at the Heckart PAC, Smith-Cotton Assistant Principal Joe Doyle addressed the students who watched the drama unfold, urging them to make wise decisions and not drink and drive, and to not bury their face in their phone while driving.

“Typically we have them every two years,” Doyle said of the mock scenarios, “but COVID caused us to cancel in 2020. So it's been four years, but I think it's very important. Watching the kids' body language, and stuff today as they watched their classmates, it hits home with them,” Doyle told KSIS.

He thanked Bothwell and all of the emergency management teams that help. “They do a good job of making it very realistic. And when it's realistic, it hits home with the kids,” Doyle said.

The timing of the exercise was chosen due to the fact that S-C's prom is this weekend.

“It's a time of celebration, and celebrations sometimes means poor decisions. So it's just a reminder as we go into that time of year that it's a time to celebrate accomplishments and everything else. But it's also a time to remember that one bad decision can also ruin the rest of your life,” Doyle said.

Wednesday's mock scenario may possibly save some young lives later on, a thought that is not lost on the assistant principal.

“That's the hope, that they get behind the wheel and they remember that they took something away from today and they'll think twice before they look at that text message,” he said. “Obviously, driving impaired has always been a big one, but anymore, I just feel like the phones are probably as much or more (of a problem). Because it's not just a Friday or Saturday night thing, it's a driving-to-school thing in the morning. Their cell phones can be a major distraction.”