The student body of Tabb High School gathered in the school’s parking lot on a cold and cloudy Tuesday to see blood, broken glass and one of their own screaming from a wrecked pick-up truck.
The York County Department of Fire and Life Safety and the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Department work together each year to stage a re-created crash scene at a York County high school. Student volunteers play the occupants of two vehicles, both donated to the county, as their fellow students watch emergency responders swarm the scene. The grim spectacle is staged to emphasize one point: Don’t drink and drive.
One student in the crash was screaming and moaning from a passenger’s seat while another was resting on the hood of a smashed vehicle in a pool of fake blood. Another was stumbling around the asphalt. All four were elaborately made up with fake blood, which had seeped all over the ruined vinyl interiors and the glass-littered asphalt outside.
The students in the audience became mostly quiet as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians flooded the site of the wreck. The police took the student who was stumbling around to the side: He was the drunken driver of the vehicle that had T-boned the other. He was given a Breathalyzer test as firefighters got to work trying to extract two people from the other truck. The student on the hood of the other vehicle was dead.
Soon the firefighters broke out tools that allowed them to cut the roof off the truck so they could rescue the people inside. Another tool, a small metal pincer, was inserted into the door where it expanded until the door popped off its hinges. By the time the firefighters were finished with the smashed vehicles, they looked like little more than scrap metal.
Once the firefighters finished, a hearse arrived to pick up the dead student. Grim Reaper — donned in a black robe, a black hood with a black piece covering the face and a scythe — was in attendance, standing near the people who had come for the body as police officers helped put the body on a gurney to load in the back of the hearse.
“I think it leaves a very long lasting impression,” said Sgt. Mark Medford of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Department. “It’s about as real as you can get without it being real.”
The re-enactment continued to the hospital, along with a mock trial for the drunken driver. Eighteen Tabb students accompanied the four actors to witness further fallout from the crash. Today, students will attend a fake funeral. The school will also host an assembly to further discuss what the students saw in the re-enactment. York County’s Video Services caught the whole re-enactment on video, and will also film the events at the hospital and trial.
Jeffery Payne, battalion chief for the fire and rescue operations division of York County, said he hopes the event shows students how an accident affects not only the people in it but the families of those involved, emergency responders, the people who are tasked with cleaning up the mess and many others.