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Reality check: Mock crash shocks, informs Perham students

First Responders extract a mock crash ‘victim’ from a totaled car as Perham High School students look on. Joe Bowen/FOCUS

“Do not drive drunk” was the simple lesson that Perham High School freshman Tyler Kassahn took from the scene of a mock crash held in the school’s parking lot last Thursday.

The scene involved local EMTs, paramedics and members of the fire and police departments. Witnessed by the student body and faculty, it was designed to replicate a real drunk driving accident – down to the last, gory detail.

Rescue workers attempted to save nine teenage ‘victims’ – all current Perham High School students – who were costumed in bloody makeup and torn clothes. A field sobriety test was administered to the ‘intoxicated’ driver of one vehicle, senior Jordan Hein.  The other driver, Matt Formanek, was found ‘dead on arrival’ next to a puddle of fake blood – and was eventually taken away in a hearse.

Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extract seniors Mark Huebsch, Lexi Richter, and Brady Speicher from a crushed car. The students, who were pretending to be unconscious, were then taken away on stretchers while the crowd of high school students looked on.

A second car, containing Rachel Nelson, Kellyn Barney, and Tanya Berns, was quickly emptied and the occupants evacuated from the scene in an ambulance, one of three on site.

Joe Bowen/FOCUS One of the ‘victims’ is loaded into an ambulance after being rescued by the Jaws of Life.

“It would be pretty scary to get in a crash like this,” said Kassahn.

Molian Van Ruden echoed his sentiment, saying that the scene, “makes you think twice before you drive on prom night.”

The school’s prom is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, just weeks after the Otter Tail County Safe Communities Coalition reported that Otter Tail ranks number one on the list of all Minnesota counties in teen deaths due to traffic crashes.

“It’s a good reminder for the kids,” said Perham firefighter Vance Bachmann, who was one of the first responders to the mock crash. “In a moment, life can change.”

“We want to get awareness to other kids in the school,” said Formanek.  “If it had an effect on 10 people, it would be worth it.”

The crash took several weeks to organize, according to Bachmann, who was on the planning committee.

In all, more than a dozen local paramedics, firefighters, and police officers participated in the mock crash, in addition to the nine high school ‘victims.’

PHS 'victims'

A helicopter was scheduled to arrive from Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, but inclement weather forced organizers to cancel the appearance.