By Emma Wagner
The Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) mock car crash was held on Thursday, April 30, in the parking lot of St. Patrick Church, across from Hudson High School. The crash is a re-enactment of a car crash in Hudson that was caused by a drunk driver on Prom night. The exact date was not be specified.
SADD has presented the mock crash for 12 years. It is presented once every three years during the week of Prom to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. It is sponsored by Hudson SAFE (Student Alcohol Free Events). The only thing that cost money was the dispatch radio used at the accident scene. This is the fourth year SADD has presented the crash at Hudson High School.
In order to stage the crash, Hudson Fire Department strategically smashed two cars donated by Alwin’s Towing to make it look as though they had been damaged in an accident. Firefighters, doctors, nurses and paramedics acted out the crash as if they were being called to an actual crash scene. Officer Jon Grass, the Hudson High School liaison, gave the driver Alex Hadlich a sobriety test.
The simulation was narrated by Glen Hartman, a paramedic and member of the Hudson Police Department. There were eight individuals involved in the crash: passengers Rachel Werner, Chris Lueneburg, Monica Monson, Savanna Quinn, Rachel Ecker, Danielle Baierl and Emma Thole. Actors made the simulation look realistic. Thole, the victim pronounced dead at the scene, was convincing, and emergency personnel were convincing in making it look as though they were trying to save Baierl, a crash victim who was gravely injured. Surviving passengers were wearing bloodied clothes to make it look as though they had been seriously hurt. Also, Officer Grass’s sobriety test on drunk driver Hadlich looked real.
Participants such as Officer Grass, commentator Hartman, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, lawyers, district attorney Rick Johnson and defense attorney Michael Brose and Judge Vlack, the judge presiding over Hadlich’s trial, were all volunteers. Members of SADD spoke with medical personnel, firefighters and other volunteers to arrange for them to participate in the accident.
The accident scene is scary because it has to be. SADD strives to encourage young people to drive safely and avoid decisions such as drinking and driving.
Was it successful? Stacey Tiedemann, the instructor of SADD and coordinator of the crash stated, “Our philosophy is if one student decides not to drink and drive, we have succeeded.”
Music was a significant part of the production. Different songs were played in different scenes to illustrate them. Tiedemann said that two or three students chose the music that would be played during the dramatization. Songs included, “I’ll Follow You into the Dark”, “How to Save a Life” and, “Hallelujah.” “Hallelujah” looked to be the theme of the demonstration. The Jeff Buckley version was played at one point and the song was sung by the Hudson High School choir at a funeral for Thole and Baierl.
A trial in which Hadlich was sentenced for homicide was also included in the simulation. Hadlich was dressed in a St. Croix County jail jumpsuit and was handcuffed. Officer Grass walked beside him as they headed to the courtroom area.
Attorneys Rick Johnson and Michael Brose along with Judge Vlack participated in the trial. Tiedemann stated that Hadlich got a less severe sentence - eight years instead of 10 - because Thole was not wearing her seatbelt and was talking on her cell phone when she was ejected from her car so she had some responsibility in the crash. This was not mentioned in the simulation.
Tiedemann said that Hadlich is an actor in Hudson High School’s theatre. The high school gymnasium was used as the set for the emergency room scene, the funeral procession and the trial.
In addition to SADD presenting a dramatization of an actual car accident, Pam Remer of Restorative Justice in River Falls spoke about her experience of losing her daughter Breanna to a car accident in November of 2006. This year was her second time giving a speech.
Remer described how Breanna died; she was driving alone and had been drinking. Her blood alcohol level was 0.13. She was not wearing her seatbelt. The accident was the result of Breanna’s car striking a tree. Audience members were visibly moved and not afraid to shed tears during Remer’s speech.
The dramatization of a car crash that is based on a real event and Remer’s story of her daughter being killed in a drunk driving car crash hopefully will encourage students to make safe decisions during their summer break.