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TRICIA KAISER, 16, a junior at Monticello High School, became emotional while watching the mock DWI accident at the school. She said she was thinking of her late friend, Tyrone Jackson, who was killed earlier this month in a possible DWI-related car accident.

DWI 'Accident'
No Laughing Matter

By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO — May 31, 2002 – It was a morning to remember Tyrone Jackson.
It was also a day to reflect that drinking and driving don’t mix.
On Wednesday, Monticello High School juniors and seniors assembled on a small hillside to watch local firefighters and EMS personnel stage a mock auto extrication that simulated the effects of a fatal teenage drunk driving accident.
For many in the crowd, it struck close to home, as Jackson, a 17-year-old student at Liberty High School, was killed on May 9 in a motor vehicle accident reportedly involving alcohol. The popular student was a passenger in the car.
Before transferring to the neighboring district during his freshman year, Jackson attended classes with many of the Monti students watching the realistic drill.
The sobering event was staged by the Monticello Fire Department, the Monticello Police Department, MobileMedic and a local funeral parlor.
The message: get kids to realize that drinking and driving don’t mix, and teenagers aren’t really immortal.
Brian Soller, chief of the Monticello Fire Department, and 1st Assistant Chief Mike Bastone served as co-presenters.
Three years ago, Crystal Price was a senior at Monti High and a junior member of the fire department. She came up with the idea of staging a mock drunk driving accident as a way of raising awareness of the tragic effects of drinking and driving.
In the simulation, a drunk teenage driver (17-year-old senior George Speer) crashed head-on into a car filled with three Monti teens. Speer’s front seat passenger (18-year-old 12th grader Danielle Cassidy) was seriously injured.
Two seniors in the “death car” were “killed” on impact: the driver, 18-year-old Summer Bilick and front seat passenger Lindsay Kesten, 17.
Fighting back tears through “blood” streaked hair, Bilick said, “It means a lot because we all had a friend who died in a drunk driving accident.”
Rear seat passenger Billy Steinberg, an 18-year-old 12th grader, sustained massive head “injuries” on impact.
Steinberg has served as a volunteer with the Forestburgh Fire Department for 2 1/2 years. As a member of their auto extrication team, he’s worked a few DWI accidents.
“I’ve seen people die,” said Steinberg. “We just lost a close friend who went to school here to drunk driving. . . . I want to show my friends what can really happen in a drunk driving accident.”
As the scenario unfolded, firefighters literally ripped both cars apart to allow EMS personnel access to the entrapped victims. The “dead” teens were covered with a plastic tarp and not removed until the critically injured “victims” were stabilized and extricated in a lengthy process that was all too real for some onlookers.
A sticker “Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up & Hold On” was pasted on the dash of the the drunk driver’s car. The front seat was filled with blood, and a handful of copper pennies were scattered in the rear footwell.
Shattered glass, dismantled doors and pools of “blood” told the story of what a few-too-many beers behind the wheel can do to young adults who mix booze and cars.
Moments before the “dead” were placed in body bags, the “drunk driver” was given a field sobriety test by Monticello Police Officer Gerry Dietz. The driver failed miserably and was arrested and charged with DWI and several felonies.
“It’s a good way to pass along a message to other students that drinking and driving is definitely not a good thing,” said Speer, wiping “blood” from his face.
Alan Kesten is a past chief with the local fire department with 29 years of service. His daughter played the role of a fatality.
“This is very close to home for me,” said the veteran firefighter. “She’s a senior, and Friday night is prom night. If we can keep one can of beer out of the hands of a kid behind the wheel because they saw this, it’s all worthwhile.
“Tyrone went to kindergarten with my daughter here at Monticello before his family moved to Liberty,” he added. “What’s touching home to these kids is the death of their friend two weeks ago.”
On the hillside above the accident scene, a couple of juniors stood side by side watching the extrication.
Shannon Price rested her head on Jeremy Lilley’s shoulder as emergency services apparatus arrived, red lights flashing and sirens screaming in the rising morning mist.
“It’s a good lesson to show everyone what drunk driving can do to you,” said Lilley.
Tricia Kaiser, a 16-year-old 11th grader, went to class with Tyrone Jackson all through the elementary and middle school years at Monticello.
As Kaiser watched the accident scene with the tail of her sweatshirt in her teeth, she envisioned the scene of May 9 as rescuers labored to free her friend from the wreck in Liberty.
“I saw what it looked like when Tyrone came out of the car,” said Kaiser emotionally. “We were great friends.”

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