Just three days before the junior prom, Skaneateles High School juniors were taken out of classes for a Mock DWI event that many described as disturbing.
While sitting on temporary bleachers outside the old Allyn Arena, students witnessed the chilling and chaotic moments after a fatal accident.
The car, donated and delivered by Scriven's Body Shop, was crushed and partially burned, with one trapped victim (senior Michele Holmes) inside. The body of another student (played by senior Teresa Richardson) was on the hood of the car, while an injured passenger screamed at the sight of her. "Somebody help her!! Oh my God, help her!! She isn't breathing!" a bloody and injured Sara Wetzel screamed until quieted by a first responder.
Maddy Elia played the role of a stunned and tattered driver, still visibly affected by alcohol. Students sat in silence as the shrill sirens from fire trucks, ambulances and police cars got closer and closer.
"This is as real as it gets," Jeff VanBeveran, director of SAVES, said as he began narration of the event unfolding in front of them. "This is the way we would all actually respond. We want you to understand this is real. These are the consequences when you make a bad decision."
Chris Bednarski of the Onondaga County District Attorney's office, held another microphone, talking to students as firefighters began working to save the victim trapped in the car, and as police began doing sobriety tests on the driver.
"Rest assured that if you cause an accident like this, with a death, I will do everything in my power to make sure you go to state prison," Bednarski said.
"Fifteen minutes before this happened, she was a fun loving girl out with her friends," he said of the driver, who failed to walk a straight line and struggled to touch her nose in the test. "Now she will be told she is going to go to prison."