GAINESVILLE - Chestatee High seniors have prom scheduled for this weekend, but before they dance the night away, the Hall County Sheriff's Office staged a car accident in real time to show the dangers of drinking and driving.
Sheriff's Deputy Nicole Bailes said the program began in 2010 and was aimed at students attending proms.
"This is a prevention program for us to really bring attention and shine light onto the students [about] drinking and driving, the results and what the outcome could be. Also, we've incorporated texting and driving and what the outcome could be.
"It's important show a visual aid. We can stand and talk all day long to students and it's going to go in one ear and out the other, so [it's important] for us to bring a visual aid out here and let the students see the ultimate outcome of what drinking and driving does."
The program took place on the football field, depicting a head-on collision between two groups of friends: one driver was drunk and speeding, the other, texting and driving distracted.
In real time, deputies, firefighters and emergency personnel responded to the "scene." The drunk driver was given a field sobriety test and arrested. One victim, seriously injured, was life-flighted from the scene in a real helicopter.
A figure dressed as the Grim Reaper milled about the scene during the program. One victim in the staging was thrown from the car, and clearly deceased. He was taken away last by a Memorial Park hearse.
The chilling event resonated with some, including senior student Joshua. "I don't [drink]... so I don't agree with it and especially behind the wheel where you're responsible not only for your life but the others with you."
Senior theater students helped with the production. Student actor Chelsea Gitten, along with several other student actors, says she wanted to participate after seeing the program. "We watched it last year and it was very emotional and we wanted to be a part of it."
Johnson High School students are expected to see the program Thursday, as their prom is also this weekend. Other schools in the area, including Gainesville High School and Flowery Branch High School, will see the program in April, according to Deputy Bailes.
"If you just save one child from getting out there and drinking and driving, I think that's definitely a positive on our end."