By Derek Etter
As seniors entered the school parking lot with snow flurrying above and the deafening roar of chatter, the wind carried a beer can across the ground, eerily symbolic of the dramatic scene behind it.
Two cars, both carrying Red Lion seniors, were totaled in the middle of the lot.
Drops of blood were dripping down the cars and glass was shattered at the feet of seniors trapped in the cars, which were piled on top of each other
As paramedics and firefighters arrived, students were cut out of the cars, and some that couldn’t be saved were laid under sheets.
As the dramatic tableau unfolded, the booming sound of students talking over each other was drowned out by sirens, and the voice of senior Quinn Waldrup shouting, “What did I do?”
However, this dramatic crash happens every year at Red Lion in the same lot, only with different students.
The Annual Mock Car Accident is produced by the Red Lion’s Red Cross Club around prom season to promote safe driving after the popular dance.
The Red Cross Club raises money every year for Red Cross, and charities like Change 4 Change, and the Mock Car Accident itself.
The head of Red Cross Club, senior Nicole Belcher, says the goal of the mock accident is to “Tell people not to drink and drive.”
Mr. Gouker, the director of the Red Cross Club, says the philosophy behind the Mock Car Crash ever year is to make an impact on at least one person.
“That one person’s decision can make all the difference in a life or death situation.”
Gouker feels as if the first impression of the student body is “this is stupid” or “it’s too cold,” that is until they see the shocking reality unfolded before their eyes.
The story of the crash is that, while driving home from prom, a drunk driver collides with a car being driven by a sober student, with one student dying on impact and the rest being trapped.
This year, the Red Cross Club enlisted the help of eight senior students to act in the mock crash, each playing different roles.
Five seniors played injured drivers this year, each with varying injuries. Hailey Kutcher, Riley Perkowski, Chloe Rentzel, Sloane Young, and Dante Zumbo all got the chance to wear gruesome special effects makeup in the accident.
Helping with makeup was two emergency room nurses from the York Hospital, Nicole Smith-Zeigler and Kim Shoff.
They both learned their skills in wound makeup at work, teaching student nurses how certain wounds will look by recreating them on students and dummies, and then teaching how to treat them.
They also did the makeup for Bryn Lehr, a student who was ejected from the passenger seat on the car, and could be seen crashed through the windshield.
Her makeup was different, because she was playing a corpse.
“There is no oxygen left in my body,” Lehr said, “so they have to tint my skin blue instead of adding blood everywhere.” The sober driver, who “died” in front of students witnessing the crash, was Aidan Nelson.
Many students were shocked watching Nelson die as his best friend, Riley Perkowski, feigned a nervous breakdown as he watched his friend die in the driver’s seat.
“It was emotionally rattling to imagine a dear person to me in that state,” Perkowski said. In fact, his performance was so dramatic he bruised a bone in his hand trying to escape the car.
Finally, there was one drunk driver, Quinn Waldrup.
Waldrup had to get out of the car and witness what happened to seven other students as a result of his decision to drive under the influence.
As a part of the re-enactment, he had to take a sobriety test from school officer Mr. Greenly and fail while watching his friends be cut from the cars.
Preceding the mock crash, the scene is flooded with helpers from local fire and police departments, and even reporters from local news stations.
York Dispatch Photographer, John Pavoncello, said he shows up every year to take pictures to expose it to local media.
To some a crash like this may seem unlikely, but Pavoncello disagrees.
“Unfortunately, after 30 years of this job, I’ve seen this happen in real life.” Pavoncello says of real car accidents that occur because of a driver under the influence.
He has also seen other schools do mock accidents, however, he says that Red Lion has a mock accident that is “a lot more realistic” than what he’s seen.
Although the skill levels of these accidents differ, he says that anything to prevent underage DUI’s is a good idea, especially around prom season.
“When I was a student, they used to show us a film of a real car accident to keep us from drinking and driving,” Pavoncello said. “What still stands out to me from that is a young girl, whose neck was broken and we had to watch her bleed out.”
Red Lion students saw similar wounds on Hailey Kutcher, who had a gash applied to her neck as her crash injury.
As the fake blood dripped down her neck, students watched as she was carried to an ambulance in a neck brace.
These frightening scenes described by Pavoncello make clear that even education from years ago in school still stays in the minds of alumni, and will stay in the minds students today.