This is a news story I did in 2013 before we sold the Tribune News.
JUNCTION CITY OR. – The Junction City Fire Department started a program sixteen years ago to help high school students better understand the severity of drinking and driving. They host a school-wide assembly every four years at the Junction City High School’s athletic field that they call “Operation Prom Night.” Various members of the Fire Department write up a skit that depicts the reality of a DUII motor vehicle accident. “The Fire Rescue, Police Department and Junction City High School really care about the kids and want to keep them safe.” Fire Chief Carl Perry said.
Members of the high school’s All Student Body (ASB) were the chosen participants for the re-enactment. Justin Wintch played as the drunk driver of the student’s car. Caitlyn Foust, Abby Green, Amber Smith and Kayla Vonstein played as passengers of the student’s vehicle. Krystal Lemhouse and her mother Laura Lemhouse played as the victims of the other car involved.
Two wrecked cars are staged as if they had collided in a nose-to-fender crash. Their windows were shattered, and the metal was crumpled. The fire crew used fake blood and other props to make the scene more realistic for the high school students watching.
The storyline was narrated by the Fire Chief Carl Perry’s daughter, Courtney Perry, during the assembly. She explained the fiction event that involved a white Chevrolet Cavalier full of five high school kids who were driving to a party after the prom. The driver of the Cavalier was a minor under the influence of alcohol who pulled out in front of a blue Toyota Corolla that was driven by an innocent mother who was taking her daughter to the party to pick up a friend.
The intoxicated driver killed the mother who drove the Corolla and the front-seat passenger of his own car. He also injured four of the other innocent passengers, two of them severely. The Fire Department responded quickly and loudly with their ambulances and fire trucks, as did the Junction City Police Department. Firefighters, EMT’s and Paramedics performed mock-CPR, used the jaws of life, displayed tremendous team work and great efforts in keeping all the victims safe and well cared for.
Police Officer Patterson performed a field sobriety test and then arrested the drunk driver at the scene. He later gave a compelling speech to the entire school assembly regarding the reality of this scenario. The emotions were heavy in the bleachers as the students observed the scary scene. This was all in hopes that this year’s Prom will be kept safe and responsible by all the students in Junction City High School.
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