Overhead View of Mock Crash Scene

On the morning of Monday, April 17, a mock car crash took place at Groton Area High School. The event simulates what happens when a minor is driving under the influence and collides with another vehicle. It also shows students the aftermath of an impaired driving accident: how the driver would be sentenced in court, the impact of injuries on the victims, and a funeral for one student who did not survive.

Students in Grades 9-12 came out to examine the crash scene as well as their injured peers. Then, emergency responders were called in via dispatch to assess crash victims’ injuries and transport them to safety. As part of the process, responders used the “jaws of life” to remove two of the victims from their vehicle. Once the driver and victims were taken care of, the students moved inside to the arena for an explanation of the accident’s legal, financial, and emotional repercussions.

The impaired driver in this scenario was played by Jacob Lewandowski, with Andrew Marzahn, Cole Simon, and Sierra Ehresmann as his passengers. Jacob’s vehicle collided with Ashtyn Bahr and Gracie Traphagen. Emergency responders included Groton Fire and Rescue, Groton Police Department, Aberdeen Fire and Rescue, the Brown County Sheriff's Department, South Dakota Highway Patrol, and Avera Careflight. Legal comments were provided by Kari Bartling of the Kolker Law Office. Coroner services were provided by the Paetznick-Garness Funeral Chapel. Tom Wanttie and Shawn Chipman, make-up artists for the Aberdeen Haunted Forest, created the victims’ “injuries” and other effects.

Thank you to all those involved, and to Patti Woods for coordinating the event! Our hope is that the simulation exposes students to the dangers of impaired or distracted driving, and encourages them to make responsible decisions.