With the prom happening Saturday, Derby High School students got a stark reminder of the consequences of drunk driving Friday.
“Don’t drive distracted and don’t get into a car impaired,” John Saccu, a volunteer firefighter and the city’s youth bureau director, told students.
Derby emergency responders staged a mock DUI crash in the Derby High School parking lot Friday, complete with fake blood, the “Jaws of Life,” handcuffs, and students acting as fresh corpses.
Mock crashes at the end of the year are common. Derby has been staging its annual wreck at the end of every school year for 28 years.
But, because Derby is small, there’s much less than six degrees of separation between the students and the police, fire, and EMS crews who may be called upon to save their lives — or clean up their mess.
The city’s closeness allows the emergency responders to explain how a mistake impacts more than just a single person.
Example — two of Derby Storm Ambulance Chief Louis Oliwa’s children watched the mock crash. Oliwa and others explained how a young person’s death has long-lasting effects on the community as a whole.
Oliwa said Mayor Rich Dziekan, during an assembly prior to the mock crash, talked to the students about his years investigating fatal crashes for the Hamden Police Department.
Oliwa said end-of-the-year proms now go hand-in-hand with safety messages. He said the school’s post prom committee does an incredible job of keeping kids safe after the dance by giving them things to do.
But Oliwa also pointed out that times are changing. Distracted driving is now killing teen drivers and passengers, and Friday’s message in Derby was honed to touch upon that threat.
Video from the mock crash is below. In it, Saccu plays a father whose car was just hit by a drunk driver (played by student Anthony Slowik).
In the scenario, Saccu realizes that his daughter (played by student Anita Ahmetaj) was thrown from the car and is dead.
The passengers in Slowik’s car were Isaiah Colon, Ayana Evans and (dead on the hood) Alexis Admans.
Derby Police Officer Eric Grella walked the students through a DUI investigation, from initial contact with the drunk driver to placing the person under arrest.