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Simulated crash exercise displays to students the dangers of impaired driving

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-17 11:20:38-04

HELENA — A simulated crash exercise at East Helena High School demonstrated to students the dangers of impaired driving.

“So, we want to impress upon them good decision making, not driving under the influence, and the absolute horror that happens when this happens,” says Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.

The exercise, which hasn’t been done in quite some time in the valley, is based on the Every 15 Minutes program, a program designed to alert students to the dangers of driving impaired, to not only themselves but the larger community.

East Helena High students witnessed in real time what emergency services would do in the event of a crash, complete with actors as the injured and real emergency services personnel who have seen similar scenes in their day-to-day jobs.

Sheriff Dutton says that this exercise is meant to remind kids that they are not impervious to danger and that these horrible situations can unfortunately still happen to them.

“The decisions they make today, there's no do-over in a crash like that. When you're dead, that's done. It’s final. When you're this age, it just doesn't really affect you. But if you feel it, if you see it, it may help someone,” says Sheriff Dutton.

And the exercise seemed to have made an impression on students.

“I think it was a super educational experience. Like, it really shows you what happens during the crashes and, like, kind of more awareness of, like, you shouldn't drink and drive obviously,” says junior at East Helena High School, Bailey Bergum.

“Not very many people, like, really think that's all that goes down when something happens and seeing that all happen is kind of scary and, like, shows, like, there's a lot more to the eye than what you just hear when there's a car crash. … So, I just think people should think before they drive impaired because it's not just you, it's other people out there,” says Junior at East Helena High School, Paige Clayton.

The students also had an opportunity to hear from Leo McCarthy, an advocate against drunk driving whose own daughter was killed by an underage drunk driver in 2007.