Mock crash is 'eye-opener' for NHS students

Cary Ashby • May 9, 2019 at 9:00 PM

Norwalk High School junior Ben Penrose didn’t know exactly when the first responders would arrive.

So there he was, lying on the ground outside of the damaged vehicle in the parking lot. The son of Shane and Vicki portrayed a deceased “victim” in the NHS mock crash Tuesday afternoon behind the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center.

“Yeah, it was weird because I didn’t know when they were going to come, so I was kinda waiting there,” said Penrose, whose face was painted with red makeup to simulate blood.

The juniors and seniors witnessed the drunk driving-related mock crash organized by the Teen Leadership Corps class. The students watched as firefighters, police, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services responded to the scene. The class had arranged for a medical helicopter to arrive, but it wasn’t able to fly to the school.

“You are going to hear and see exactly what victims of a car crash would experience during and after the crash. This will occur in real time as it does in real situations,” senior Jordan Gran told the students. “Fatal traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people in the United States.”

The “driver” of the vehicle that “hit” a utility pole was junior Alec Maloney. His “passengers” were Penrose, senior Deyer Graffice and junior Quinn Jaworski. At impact, Penrose was thrown into the roof of the car and out of the side window, causing massive head and brain “injuries.”

The Norwalk post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Norwalk police and fire departments and North Central EMS responded to the site. 

“In this situation, three boys and one girl from Norwalk were on their way to after prom. They had stopped at Ben’s house to change into comfy clothes. While Ben and Deyer were changing, Alec curiously looked around the house. He stumbled upon a cabinet that contained alcohol. Alec then convinced Haleigh that they should start the party early and they both took a couple of drinks from a vodka bottle,” Gran said.

“They heard Ben and Deyer coming down the stairs and quickly hid any evidence of their drinking. Ben, having no idea that Alec had drank, asked Alec if he could drive because he had a headache. Alec agreed and as they headed out to the car, it started to rain.

“They got in the car and headed for the high school. As a car passed them, the headlights in the rain momentarily distracted Alec. He was already light-headed from the alcohol and did not see the pole he is about to run into.”

Junior Abigail Grell shared exactly what happened to the car as it hit the pole — down to the tenth of a second. She also narrated the extent of the injuries of each occupant. 

Daniels, one of the first responding officers, immediately went to Penrose, who played the deceased victim. The detective later placed a white cloth over the boy’s body.

“I really am just hoping they (realize) that drinking and driving is way more serious than it is usually portrayed as,” Penrose said after the mock crash.

Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pry open the front passenger side door of the vehicle so they could reach Graffice. North Central EMS and firefighter Jeff Phillips tended to Jaworski at the same time.

Meanwhile, Trooper Ryan Eedy had Maloney underwent a field sobriety test. The son of Tim and Kim stumbled a few times while attempting to follow a line in a parking space.

The trooper eventually placed Maloney under arrest and led the handcuffed teenager to his cruiser. Eedy drove in front of the portable stands, which allowed the juniors and seniors to see Maloney in the back seat.

Chloe Thomas, the daughter of Ryan and Melissa, chatted with patrol Sgt. Evan Stevens after the mock crash ended. Her father is a trooper with the Norwalk post.

The junior said it was “pretty much” a reality check seeing Maloney being led away in handcuffs.

“Alec is my neighbor and so is Ben, so I know them a little bit more than the other passengers in the car. It’s kinda surprising because (Alec) doesn’t seem like that kind of kid, but I guess it’s some times it’s those kind of people you’d least expect,” Thomas said.

“It’s kind of an eye-opener for everybody in my class because some of them I don’t think they realize … how scary it is for this to happen. Sometimes they just don’t take stuff like seriously, like in health class. So I think actually seeing it probably really (hit home).”

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