Northwest NEWS

May 29, 2000

Front Page

Emergency lights at Woodinville High School

DUI drill

The DUI re-enactment at Woodinville High last Thursday was a moving reminder to high school students of the tragic consequences of drinking and driving.
Staff photo by Becky Nixon.

by Bronwyn Wilson, staff reporter

   What I'm about to witness seems out of place on this sunny spring day. I'm here at Woodinville High School to write about the theater department's re-enactment of what could happen when a teenager under the influence of alcohol decides to drive a car.

   From the school's parking lot, there's a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier, snow-covered and misty. I ask a student where the office is and he points toward cement stairs, a million steps climbing toward the clouds. For someone like me, who graduated from high school back in the Dark Ages, this is a challenge.

   Somehow I survive and find the office at the top, where I sign the guest register and a student directs me to where the re-enactment will be. I hike up more stairs and roam halls with lockers slamming shut, and finally I end up in another parking lot, my appointed destination.

   Two enormous fire trucks, two Medic One units, and lots of police cars are ready for the drama. In and amongst the vehicles are bright orange plastic cones and fire and police personnel. Students gather. More join them. Toting backpacks and in baseball caps, shorts, and sweatshirts, the students seat themselves on the pavement.

   Dave Leggett, Public Fire Educator from Woodinville Fire & Life Safety, speaks. "Every 15 minutes, we lose a student in the U.S. due to this type of consequence," he says. "We are about to begin the drill."

   Suddenly, fire engines peel out with sirens screaming. Red tarps are removed, exposing two vehicles juxtaposed in a T-bone configuration to show how an accident might look after a car has spun out and collided with another.

   One car, a Mazda, contains students portraying themselves as injured or possibly dead. The students have white complexions, all are bleeding, one shakes. In the other car, two students are lifeless; a third has severe injuries. There are gobs of blood in their hair, on their clothes. One high school student, dripping in blood, manages to free himself from the car and wanders around in shock, shaking from hypothermia, his left arm now amputated. Another student in the back seat is pale and motionless. The fire personnel race to rescue and care for the injured.

   The driver of the Mazda stumbles out of the car and staggers around in an intoxicated stupor. The other car's driver, a young woman, is whiter than white, dripping in blood, and dead.

   The passenger, the driver's friend, is loaded onto a stretcher, her arms flop loose and her mouth hangs open. She, too, is dead. The third passenger, a female student, cries, shakes, coughs.

   I can't help feeling concerned about the young man in the back seat of the Mazda. A fireman uses a crow bar and the Jaws of Life in order to get to him. The car door is ripped from its hinges.

   The unconscious student is provided basic life support until paramedics arrive to provide advanced life support measures. The young man opens his eyes a little.

   The high school students in the audience are wholly absorbed in this drama. The expressions on their faces show concern as the dead teenage driver is draped in a sheet and her friend, laid out on a tarp, is also covered with a sheet.

   The intoxicated male driver is read his rights, "You have the right to remain silent ... you have the right..." Police car lights, red, blue, and white, go 'round and 'round. A fireman drags his hose close to the wreckage, ready for back-up in case a fire breaks out. The injured passengers are lifted into the Medic One units.

   This DUI re-enactment at Woodinville High School on Thursday, May 25, was a moving reminder to high school students of the tragic consequences of drinking and driving. The student actors depicted the horrific trauma so realistically, I momentarily forgot they were acting.

   The blood dripping down the side of the car door appeared real. The blood from gashes on knees and arms appeared to ooze, coagulate, and dry. It was so real, even the actors needed time to re-adjust when it was over. "I was so into it, I was really shaking," one of the actors commented.

   The production was a collaborative effort by Leggett, the theater department, assistant principal Sam Jackson, teacher Hjalmer Anderson, and parent volunteer Brenda Penner. Playing the parts of the dead and injured were Woodinville High School juniors Lindsey Murray, Annika Nielson, James Swift, Cliff Borjeson, Cary Palmer, and Marita Gumbs.

   For Lindsey Murray, who portrayed the dead driver, the issue of driving under the influence of alcohol affects her personally. "Both Annika and I have a friend who was injured in an accident and now she's a paraplegic," Murray says.

   Standing next to her, Annika Nielson adds, "Our friend just turned 19." Then, referring to drinking and driving she says, "It's very serious."

   Nielson and Murray were the actors who played the parts of the dead driver and her dead passenger. Murray now stretches her leg after having it motionless for twenty minutes and Nielson mentions it's time to get going. It's like watching ghosts return from the dead as they walk from the parking lot back to class. Thankfully, this re-enactment was just that.

   The next DUI re-enactment will take place at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, Thursday, June 1st at 1:30pm. The public is welcome and anyone wishing to attend is asked to register at the front office.