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Rossford High School senior Stephanie Hiner made a brief but tragic appearance before hundreds of students last week, as did her father, D.J. Hiner, the high school and junior high choir teacher. Fortunately, nothing was real. The event was a sad and grisly show — a mock-car accident officials organized for prom season to teach young people the dangers of driving while impaired.
The setting was the high school stadium. The staged accident, using wrecked vehicles, posited a car northbound on Lime City Road carrying five students from the high school. The driver is under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. The car goes left of center and collides with the vehicle Stephanie is driving.
The girl “dies” a few minutes after the crash, her face grotesquely covered with stage blood and fake injuries. The 911 call goes in. Emergency vehicles start arriving: EMS and fire units, police, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and a Life Flight helicopter, which touches down on the football field.
Then a distraught Mr. Hiner appears. He charges toward the accident scene, shouting his daughter’s name. A state trooper and Rossford police officer forcefully restrain him. “That’s my daughter,” he cries in anguish.
Stephanie’s “body” is removed from the vehicle, shrouded, and laid on the ground, where a hearse from Strabler Funeral home eventually picks it up. Stephanie’s performance, however, is not finished. The students in the bleachers then hear her across the public address system, lamenting the shortness of her life and all the unfulfilled plans she had for it.
Monique Thompson, mother of Rossford senior Madison Crawford, said she found the event extremely realistic and effective. “It gave me goosebumps.”
Madison said she was impressed as well, and believed her classmates learned a lesson. “I hope they did.”
While the performance on the field was under way, officials on the PA system in the press box maintained a running explanation of the details and ramifications of such a traffic accident.
The staged crash supposedly occurred at 35 mph. Rossford police Chief Glenn Goss told the audience that more than half of injury accidents occur at speeds of less than 40 mph, and that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in the students’ age group. He explained that “in all traffic fatalities involving your age group, alcohol and/or drugs is involved in 25 percent of those crashes.”
“Keep in mind that in many cases, in a more rural setting, the police, highway patrol, fire, and EMS personnel may not arrive for five to 10 minutes or more,” the chief said.
Jim Snider, Rossford schools’ drug prevention specialist, said he believed the lesson was absorbed by the teenage audience. “We’d rather have them go through an exercise like this than the real thing.”
Contact Carl Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6095.