One WGHS Student
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Glitz, glamour and a final hurrah with friends should be all that defines prom night -- not the tragedy of lives altered by a fatal accident.
Upperclassmen at county high schools are making plans for their upcoming prom nights and, on Friday, they gathered around the main stage at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
There, area rescue workers re-enacted a fatal drunk-driving accident and challenged the students to make a Prom Promise not to drink and drive and not to drive and text.
Event organizer Angie Horner, a registered nurse at Takoma Regional Hospital, said that she has been involved with the annual "Prom Promise" presentation since it began seven years ago.
At that time, motor-vehicle accidents for young adults often related to drunk driving.
"We do it during prom month because we know what really goes on at prom," she said.
To stage the re-enactment, representatives from Takoma joined area emergency personnel from the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, the Greeneville Fire Department, Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the Greene County Coroner, and the Greeneville Police Department, along with Malone's Wrecker Service, and Lynn Rowlette.
Students from the Greene Technology Center's EMS class portrayed the accident's "victims."
Horner opened the presentation by welcoming the students from each of the four county high schools and asking that they stop to think before choosing to drink and drive.
"Before you make the decision to do something, ask yourself, 'What if ...?'", she advised.
Master of Ceremonies Chris Bowers, of the Greeneville Fire Department, narrated the reenactment, from the recorded crunch of metal and a fading heartbeat to the arrival and rescue efforts of emergency personnel.
The re-enactment detailed a head-on collision in which two teenage girls coming from a prom hit a mother driving home.
The mother was transported to a local hospital with head injuries, while the passenger in the other vehicle -- a 16-year-old girl -- was pronounced dead on arrival.
The drunk driver, another young woman dressed for the prom, was injured but refused treatment.
After she failed a sobriety test, police arrested her for driving under the influence, with possible manslaughter charges to follow.
"What we try to do here is actually bring you to the crash scene," Bowers said. "We want to shock you if we have to [in order to] make you realize."
Once emergency personnel cleared the "accident scene," Bowers invited students to speak with the volunteers and pick up free Prom Promise 2013 T-shirts.
The students were somber for the majority of the reenactment.
West Greene High School students Taylor Seay and Dustin Wilhoit were among the first in line for T-shirts.
"It was life-changing," Seay said.
"It makes you think big time," Wilhoit said. "I didn't really think it would until I got down here."