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A sobering lesson before prom

Farmington High School students got a lesson May 14 -- the day before prom -- on the possible consequences of drinking and driving.

The tarp came up. There were two cars, smashed nose-to-nose. A body lay on the ground, another on the hood of one of the cars, sprawled through the windshield.

And then the panicked voice called out for Maria. It was a mother's voice, a mother trying to determine whether her family was okay after a crash.

A drunk driving crash.

Last Friday morning, Farmington High School juniors and seniors witnessed, hopefully, the closest thing they will ever come to the scene of a double-fatality caused by a drunk driver. It was a mock crash, but for the emergency personnel who respond to these kinds of things on a regular basis, there was no "mock" about it. It's real, and it's a part of their job.

It was a vivid, dramatic and even borderline gory scene that drew the students' attention from the very beginning. And it was meant to.

"I think the intent is to give the young drivers a picture of what occurs if bad decisions are made," said Farmington school resource officer Steve Kuyper. "For police and emergency responders, it's what we all go through and what could happen because of their choice to drink and drive.

"It just doesn't affect those people in the car. It affects the first responders all the way to the family and the friends. You hope it makes an impact on them," he said.

Staged just before prom, the mock crash is intended to help students make better choices. It is a collaborative effort that brought together the school, police and fire departments, as well as Allina ambulance, White Funeral Home and the North Memorial airlift helicopter service.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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