Quartzsite, AZ - Quartzsite Town Park was the location of Operation Stay Safe, a mock drunk driving crash scene held Thursday, April 26, 2012. The graphic demonstration of the dangers of drinking and driving involved six students in two crashed vehicles.
Yellow smoke signaled the beginning of the incident, with a simulated phone call to 911. Arizona Department of Public Service (DPS) Officer Tre Jackson narrated the event for students of Scholars’ Academy and spectators. Jackson explained the events taking place as it would happen in real time. He said it could take up to an hour for emergency services to arrive, depending upon location.
Arriving first on the scene was Quartzsite Police Department (QPD) along with DPS who assessed the scene and called for Quartzsite Fire Department (QFD) and ambulance. One driver had stumbled out of the vehicle, kicking the beer cans under the car. He soon realized his passenger had been ejected and was non-responsive. An officer covered the “dead” girl with yellow plastic. As QFD arrived on the scene, the driver and friend were performing the sobriety field test. After failing the test, the driver was “arrested” for Driving Under the Influence. His friend was also “arrested” for under age drinking. The driver’s mother answered the notificaiton call from QPD about the “accident”. Her realistic panic shocked many spectators, as she demanded to know the status of the other kids.
Meanwhile, River Medical Ambulance arrived on the scene while firefighters began rescuing “victims” from the two vehicles. Care Flight helicopter arrived in a safe area away from the crash area. Emergency personnel strapped one critically injured “passenger” to the gurney and was flown from the scene. One student with “heart problems” was transported by River Medical. Another “dead” student was extricated from the vehicle, after the “injured” were taken away.
Two DPS officers acted out the “knock on the door” scene, notifying a mother that her daughter had been killed in a drunk driving accident, even though she had not been drinking. The officers then notified a grandmother of the death of her favorite grandchild.
Jackson told the audience that this type of accident happens every day. As the “dead” students were placed in body bags, Officer Jim Shultz took photos of the accident scene. Jackson asked the youth, “Are these the prom pictures you guys imagined?” The two “dead” students were loaded into a hearse while spectators stared in silence.
Firefighter Kevin Cushman also spoke to the audience. “Be smart!” He reinforced the importance of buckling up, not using cell phones or texting while driving.
This somber experience was held to educate students of the dangers of drinking and driving. Jackson ended with, “We all know you; you are family to this community; you’re a family to us. Do not make us knock on the door of your parents to tell them you were killed in a car crash!”
The organizers hope the students will remember the experience for the rest of their lives and said, “Don’t drink and drive; and don’t get in a vehicle driven by someone who’s been drinking.”
Jackson told the students, “Our challenge for you, as a community, is to take a stand and make the right decision. Only you can make that decision.”
QFD Chief Kevin Hess, ended with, “Stay alive, please! Take a deep breath, now remember how that feels!”
Monica Timberlake, one of the event’s organizers, thanks all the participants in a letter on Page 9.
Photos of the mock accident were uploaded to Desert Messenger’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/DesertMessenger.
The video of the event can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/QWatchingEyes channel.