CRESTVIEW — This year’s Crestview High School prom was free of driving under the influence incidents, the Crestview Police Department, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol confirmed.
An educational program the day prior to the event may have contributed to the safe outcome. Before attending the prom on Saturday night, Crestview High School’s junior and senior classes saw a demonstration on the dangers of driving under the influence.
About 750 students nearly filled the left side of the football stadium’s bleachers, while first responders ─the Crestview Fire Department, emergency medical services, Crestview police and the Florida Highway Patrol ─showed the tragic results of driving under the influence.
Emergency crews responded to a call in which two vehicles collided head on. The scenario involved teenagers portrayed by the school's leadership program members.
Authorities discovered several open containers in one of the vehicles and determined that alcohol contributed to the crash. Most of the teens in that vehicle received minor injuries. Police arrested the intoxicated teenage driver and hauled him away in a Crestview Police cruiser after he failed a field sobriety test.
A passenger in the other car was pronounced dead at the scene. Firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools to remove the top of the victim's car and retrieve a critically injured backseat passenger, whom they strapped to a gurney. Medics requested an Air Heart helicopter transported the teen.
Several in the crowd cheered as the helicopter landed on the football field. However, the teen soon went into cardiac arrest and was sent to a trauma center.
Employees from a local funeral home arrived on the scene to collect the body of the teen ─ portrayed by Brittany Agee ─killed on impact. FHP officers visited the girl's parents to deliver the news of her death.
The scenario portrayed a harsh reality, but students needed to understand their actions could have serious consequences, school officials said.
"The only thing you can do is make them aware, educate them, and they have to make them the right decisions," CHS assistant principal Dexter Day said. The Florida Highway Patrol and local first responders brought the program to the school’s attention.
"One bad decision not only affects you but (also) everybody involved," FHP Sgt. Ron Livingston said.
Students grew quiet during the testimonies ofAmy Jamieson and Lindy Bowman,mothers who lost their teenagers in DUI-related incidents.
Corbin Carroll, 17, noticed the crowd's reaction.
"I saw a lot of people upset," he said. "I don't think people should be drinking and driving because you can put other people's lives in danger ... one mistake can change your life."
Livingston has organized several of these mock demonstrations for the past six years, hoping students would learn that lesson. About three years ago, he, along with other agencies, brought the program to Crestview after students died under similar circumstances.
"Our biggest thing is that if we can save just one life, then we have accomplished something out of this," Livingston said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.