NEW PARIS — School prom season has arrived and with it the stark reality of the dangers students might face following such celebrations. To remind students and parents alike of the dangers associated with drinking, drugs and distracted driving, National Trail High School students took part in a “Mock Crash” program on Friday, April 22.
MedFlight, the Preble County Sheriff’s Department and other safety personnel participated in the sobering activity along with NTHS students.
“The main objective of this event is ‘realism’ and ‘surprise,’ which we have focused on during the initial planning of this activity,” NTHS Principal Mike Eyler said in a letter leading up to the event.
The program, held behind NTHS, began Friday morning. All high school students were dismissed to the “crash scene” just after noon, and were able to witness the “real-life” activities which take place during this type of tragic event.
The program continued with a mock funeral viewing, and later a mock trial presented with the help of completion of the Mock Crash, we plan to extend this activity by setting-up a “Mock Viewing” and a “Mock Trail” with the help of Preble County Common Pleas Court Magistrate Erica Gordon, Assistant Prosecutor Eric Marit, and Attorney Melissa Duke Jones.
The activities brought home to students the after effects of a tragic crash.
Special speaker Brian Cooper told the students what they witnessed was a “very well-planned, very well-staged and very well-performed mock crash. He then went on to share his experience with loss due to a real one.
“Thirty-three years ago, I was in the same seat you are. I was getting ready to go to prom. I was getting ready to graduate high school. A couple of years after that I met my wife. We were married. We’ve been married 31 years this June. We had three children, Cory, Brian and Alexandria. My oldest son Corey Cooper, was 18 years old. He was an athlete. He was a student, and he had lots of friends. My son turned 18 years Nov. 10, 2011.
“He never made it to his senior prom. And he never made it to graduation.”
Cooper told students and parents, “Just eight short days after his 18th birthday, he was killed by a drunk driver.”
Cooper said the driver who killed his son was a software engineer in town on business who had been celebrating a recent job promotion. Cooper’s son Cory was catching up with a friend that evening.
Cooper had gone to bed and was “woken by my wife hollering and screaming. She had fallen asleep on the couch and had been awakened by a police officer, and someone from the coroner’s office,” he said.
“They were there to tell her that her oldest son wasn’t coming home,” Cooper added. “He had been killed by a suspected drunk driver.”
His friend who was driving was also killed.
“Your parents care about each and every one of you. Your teachers care about each and every one of you,” Cooper told the students. “When they say they’d rather get a phone call at three o’clock in the morning that you were at a party or at someone’s house and you had something to drink and you need a ride home, trust me, they’d rather get that call than the knock at the door I got.”
“Are they going to be upset? Probably. Are you going to get yelled at and possibly grounded? Maybe.
“But you’ll be alive,” he said.
Cooper told those in attendance that approximately two-thirds of the student body watching the assembly would be affected by a drunk driver at some point in their lifetime. “And it’s not just drunk driving. It’s impaired driving. Marijuana, pills,” he said.
“I know that usually on Fridays at two o’clock we’re not trying to get overly heavy with you, in the atmosphere, the mood and the way we want to send you home,” Eyler told students at the end of the presentation. “But I don’t want Sunday morning at 2 a.m. to get a text or a phone call telling me what has probably already been told to your parents and family, and I don’t want to end up in here on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning in front of you talking about the injuries or deaths of your classmates, your teachers — anybody in our community — because ultimately, as much as we want you to graduate, we want you to do that safely.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr