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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • On eve of prom, high school students advised against drinking and driving

  • A day ahead of Pleasant Ridge High School's prom, students were given Friday a reminder of the dangers and destruction of drinking and driving.
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  • A day ahead of Pleasant Ridge High School's prom, students were given Friday a reminder of the dangers and destruction of drinking and driving.
    A mock crash was staged in front of the high school. And, while the wreck was not real, organizers wanted students to take the issue seriously.
    "We just want to encourage you guys to make good decisions," said Jesse Johnson, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper.
    He told the students from the high school and neighboring Pleasant Ridge Middle School they have the rest of their lives ahead of them.
    As the scenario for the mock crash unfolded, students learned that a car with four teens had been struck by another vehicle.
    One of the teens was killed at the scene. Others were injured.
    Pleasant Ridge students played the roles of injured teens.
    Emergency responders from the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, Leavenworth County EMS, Kickapoo Township Fire Department and other agencies participated in the scenario.
    A Sheriff's Office corporal played the role of the drunk driver who caused the crash.
    Before stepping outside to watch the exercise, students heard a recording of what was supposed to be a 911 dispatch for the wreck.
    "This is as real as we can get it," said Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County Emergency Management director.
    An air ambulance had been scheduled to land in front the high school to transport an "injured" student. 
    But, the helicopter had been diverted for a real emergency.
    Sheriff's Deputy Mark Lingenfelser, who serves as a school resource officer for Easton public schools, said he wants students to have fun at prom. But, he asked them to take Friday's presentation seriously.
    "I've seen a lot of fatalities myself," he said.
    Lingenfelser also serves as coordinator for Rams Against Destructive Decisions, a student group at the high school.
    RADD worked with Magaha to organize Friday's mock crash.
    Magaha said the high school has a mock crash every two years.
    "Each time, it's just as meaningful to me," he said.
    Magaha, who's also Fairmount Township Fire Department's assistant chief, said he deals with crashes such as the one depicted Friday on a regular basis.
    High School Principal Andy Metsker told students there will be some among them who will try alcohol. But, he said there are people such as parents who will pick students up if they find themselves in need of a ride.
    "Take care of yourself," Metsker said. "Make good choices. Do what you should do."
    Leavenworth County Sheriff Andy Dedeke said having to notify people that a loved one has been killed is the worst part of working in law enforcement.
    Page 2 of 2 - In addition to drunk driving, crashes can also occur when people are texting, goofing off or otherwise distracted when driving, Dedeke said.
    "What it comes down to is driving is not a game," he said.
    After high school students returned to school, they rotated through a series of assembly speakers.
    The speakers included a man whose daughter and nephew were killed in car crashes, a Lansing Correctional Facility inmate who is incarcerated for a drunk driving fatality, law enforcement officers and Assistant Leavenworth County Attorney Christopher Scott.
    Scott told students drunk driving crashes are "100-percent preventable."
    He said students need to "just take a deep breath and think" before attempting to drive after they've been drinking.

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