It was a somber display May 8 at Killdeer High School.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please be aware these photos may be disturbing. These photos depict a mock car collision that was held for educational purposes. Nobody actually was harmed.
By BRYCE MARTIN
Posted May 17, 2013
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please be aware this story may be disturbing for some. This story focuses on a mock car collision that was held for educational purposes. Nobody actually was harmed.
KILLDEER — It was a somber display May 8 at Killdeer High School. Though nobody was in real danger, it felt as if friends and loved ones truly died in a vehicle collision.
Two vehicles soberly stood behind the school, with cracked windshields, twisted steel frames and other indications they were involved in a head-on collision.
Inside laid the fake-blood-covered bodies of several high school seniors.
Other than the crowd of students surrounding the vehicles and a narrator explaining the events, one could mistake the mock collision as a real life accident where youths perished.
In an effort to convey the serious consequences of driving while distracted, students from Killdeer High School’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and their advisor Nancy Hart created a scenario where several students were involved in a collision resulting from driving while texting.
Kevin Candrian, a volunteer for the West Dunn Fire Department, narrated the events step-by-step as they unfolded, occasionally adding humor to help lighten the morbid feel.
The presentation was explained to occur May 26, the night of Killdeer High School’s graduation. It was raining and wet on the roads for the last week, but the weather was changing.
Senior Christian Kulish stopped to pick up Kelsey Knutson after graduation and decided to drive around, thinking of where they wanted to hang out. Kulish wore his seatbelt, but Knutson forgot hers as she quickly entered his truck.
As they pulled out of Knutson’s driveway, Kulish started getting texts on his phone.
Once their truck was outside of Killdeer, Kulish began texting his friends. Knuston asked if she could text for him, but he said he was fine and that he did it all the time.
Knutson let him continue texting.
Brock Pittsley, Shawn Benz, Courtney Hill and Ashton Alley went to Dickinson after the graduation ceremony. They wanted to run to Dickinson to grab a bite to eat before they went out for the evening. None of them took the time to buckle their seat belts.
Pittsley turned on a back road as the group decided to drive around for a bit. They paid no attention to where they were going and drove too fast on the gravel road. Pittsely reached over to answer his text message as he came to the top of a hill.
He never saw Kulish’s pickup until the instant before crashing into it.
“Both were driving down the center of the road texting and not paying attention,” Candrian said as students stared at the two vehicles. “The look of panic and fear on their faces is etched in each of their minds in that fraction of a second before the vehicles crashed together.”
Collisions continued to occur even after each car’s metal twisted into each other.
As the vehicles rapidly slowed down, the people inside still traveled at 45 to 50 mph, the same speed as the cars before the crash began. The second collision occurred when the people inside the car crashed into the steering wheel, dash, windshield or any other solid object, then got hurled back into the seat or ejected from the car. The third collision occurred when the victim’s internal organs, traveling at 45 to 50 mph, smashed into the skeletal frame causing bruising and rupturing of the spleen, kidney, liver, and heart.
That all happened in less than 1.5 seconds.
“The decisions which led to these events will change the lives of each of these individuals, their families, and the community forever,” Candrian said.
According to the demonstration, Knutson was thrown into a nearby ditch from Kulish’s truck. She lay motionless on the ground, dead from her injuries.
Pittsley’s legs were severely damaged in the collision, possibly disabling him for his lifetime.
“Mistakes were made by both driver to cause this crash,” Candrian said. “Texting, speed for the road conditions, inattention, bad judgment caused this crash. Not wearing seat belts increases the severity when they do happen.”
The mock car crash hadn’t been held in Killdeer for at least five years, but Hart said plans now are to repeat the simulation every other year.
“I had it when I was in high school and so that’s why when I became the SADD advisor, we talked about it and my kids wanted to do it,” Hart said.
Hart said it was a good time to bring the presentation to the school because of the increased traffic around Dunn County and the amount of students that are becoming newly licensed drivers.
While there are other driving dangers facing teens, Hart said it was her SADD students’ choice to focus on the dangers of texting while driving.
“We focused on texting and driving – getting into accidents, getting into rollovers … it’s just something the kids thought that needed to be shown,” she said. “This is what could happen. This is a scenario that, what if you were texting and driving and you killed one of your fellow classmates or you killed somebody you knew?”
“There’s consequences for your actions and they wanted to show that.”
The scenario was played throughout the day as the students involved in the simulated collision did not return to class.
“We made an announcement in the school because the kids that were involved in mock car crash didn’t go back to class that day,” she said. “It was like they actually did get into an accident and they weren’t around in school.”
Agriculture teacher Larry Lundberg donated the vehicles and Killdeer Area Ambulance, the West Dunn Fire Department and the Killdeer Police Department assisted in the program, reenacting their roles as if they were responding to a real crash site. EMS responders examined the scene to determine the proper response. They pulled several students from the vehicles, one that screamed for her fellow classmate lying motionless on the ground and another placed inside a body bag and carried to a nearby ambulance. Firefighters also demonstrated how they would extract people from badly damaged vehicles with the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool.
Ninth through 12th graders watched as their peers endured the effects of a serious car collision.
“It was to bring awareness – people do die in accidents,” Hart said.
Contact Bryce Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.