Lake City Reporter: Mock crash at CHS brings reality face-to-face

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Three days before prom, Columbia County juniors and seniors received a helping of tough love served through a dramatization of a car crash on prom night.

It was a lesson of love: The love of the community for its young people, the love from parents for their children, the love of life and love among friends.

Students got a taste of what can happen when alcohol and driving are mixed.

The program taught a lesson on the beauty and frailty of life.

The mock crash played out before the students as they sat in the bleachers at the Columbia High School stadium.

Mike McKee, executive director of media and community information at Lake City Community College, narrated the drama.

The beginning of the drama focused on a young couple attending prom.

They promised not to drink and to wear their seat belts.

Later, the boyfriend gets drunk at a party, swerves out of his lane and collides with another car, carrying another teen couple.

Fort White High School’s Amber Legree and Jonathan James played the crash victims in the other car.

The pretend-crash left the two students dead and one injured.

The girlfriend was played by CHS’ Holly Brown and Jenn Carpenter, daughter of Major Rick Carpenter of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Her character’s body hung outside of the broken windshield.

Another couple, played by CHS’ Brandon Hill and Elizabeth Gist, drives by and calls 911.

Representatives from Emergency Medical Services, Lake City Fire Department, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Lake City Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol arrived to the scene.

The girlfriend is pronounced dead at the scene, and the James’ character was lifted by a Shands Trauma One helicopter.

He later dies, and Legree sustains serious injuries.

The drunk driver, played by CHS’ David and Daniel Moore, was given a sobriety test by Deputy Clint Dicks of Columbia County Sheriff’s Department and Cpl. Andy Miles of the Lake City Police Department.

He fails and is taken away to jail.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Cagle informed the girlfriend’s parents, played by CHS’ Debra Wright and FWHS’ Terry Fillyaw.

Wright’s wail hushed the students in the bleachers as she wept over the news.

The parents cried in denial and shock.

Funeral home attendants, played by Debbie Dees and Jason Evans, arrived to pick up the girl’s body as she lay in the middle of the football field.

A poem was read by Brown through the speakers while Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” played softy.

The poem ended with, “I have one last question, mom, before I say good-bye. I didn’t ever drink, mom, so why am I to die? This is the end, mom, I wish I could look you in the eye, to say these final words – mom, I love you and good-bye.”

Later the drunk driver is shown in court and is sentenced to 30 years in prison by Judge Tom Coleman for two counts of manslaughter.

His father, played by CHS’ Roger Lizotte, and the parents of the girl were on-hand to plead their cases.

Lizotte begged Coleman not to send his son away, and Wright screamed to the driver, “You murdered her, you murdered my baby.”

The final scene shows Fillyaw kneeling by his daughter’s grave.

He didn’t get to say “I love you” one last time and is seen mourning by the headstone that reads “Holly” and “Daddy’s Girl.”

Coleman addressed the students at the end of the mock crash.

“Alcohol impairs sense, and drunks get into wrecks they could have avoided,” he said. “You are not immortal; death does not give second chances to anyone.”

The mock crash is presented every two years by the Columbia County Safety Team in conjunction with almost 25 community agencies, businesses and organizations.

This year is the third time the mock crash was presented in Columbia County.

Capt. Gary Laxton and James “Bubba” McDonald served as coordinators.

“We try to do these every two years or so to present to juniors and seniors,” Laxton said. “This year was different because we depicted the deaths of two teens because we are presenting it with Fort White High School.”

He said the main purpose of the event is to get the attention of the students especially with prom approaching this weekend.

CHS Principal Joann Chamberlin said the program was presented out of love and care for the students.

“This serves as just one more lesson, one more word of advice to urge teens to not drink and drive,” she said. “I believe the mock crash is the most impressive community effort I’ve ever seen.”

Rusty Noah, EMS director, felt the mock crash has prevented tragedies since its inception.

“The students responded as they always do, and I believe it affected them,” he said. “Our team reacted in exactly the same manner they would in a real situation; they didn’t have to rehearse.”

Lt. Mike Burroughs of the FHP knows the scene of crashes all too well.

“We at FHP deal with terrible accidents so much, and we know how it is to have to tell the families that their loved one isn’t coming home,” Burroughs said.”We believe the mock crash is a proactive way we can try to prevent crashes like these by getting the message to young people and their parents about the dangers of drunk driving.”

FWHS junior Brian Coker was impacted by seeing his classmates act in the drama.

“A lot of people want to drink to have fun, but the consequences can be too high,” he said.

Derick Smith, a FWHS senior, said he doesn’t drink because he knows what it is like to lose someone due to drunk driving.

“I think this made a big impact on students,”he said.

Jessica Douglas, FWHS senior, had tears in her eyes and her voice broke as she commented about the mock crash.

“I cried especially when the poem was read, and the message really hit home,” she said. “My father raised me, and I thought about how much I love him as I watched the mock crash.”

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:44+00:00 April 27th, 2005|Categories: Blog, Samples|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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