The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


April 25, 2013

VIDEO | Drill provides glimpse of reality: Responders stage grim demonstration of accident scene

PATTON — Police, fire and EMS responders from Patton and Carrolltown rushed to Cambria Heights High School Thursday afternoon, responding to a call that detailed a two-vehicle accident with entrapment.

Although it was a drill, designed to be a graphic depiction of what happens when unsafe driving practices lead to a wreck, the message sent to the dozens of  students surrounding the scene was clear.

“You could hear a pin drop,” said Pamela Kane, safety press officer for PennDOT. “Those kids seemed to be really into this.”

It was part of the school’s Operation Prom Promise program, which educates students on the dangers of impaired, distracted or aggressive driving. A simulated crash was staged just after 2 p.m. in the high school parking lot.

“We want to have them learn what it’s really like to make the wrong decision,” said Jerry Brant, public information officer for Patton Fire Company.

A handful of Cambria Heights drama students, using two junked vehicles sitting nose-to-nose and at least a pint of fake blood, tried to make the scene as realistic as possible.

Emergency units were called, arriving on scene with lights spinning and sirens wailing. The young actors shrieked and sobbed and, although the portrayal was first met with giggles, onlookers’ demeanors quickly turned sober.

“It’s just the harsh reality, really. If you drink and drive, this stuff can happen,” said senior Beau Buterbaugh, who said he likes to play it safe. “My parents have taught me over the years that nothing good can come of (drunken driving).”

Kane said the simulation program has tried to reach as many schools as possible across the six counties that she covers. Operation Prom Promise originated at a time when vehicle accidents caused on prom night by drunken or careless students – out enjoying what is, for many, the most highly anticipated night of their high school years – were on the rise.

“That’s the reason for the additional education with the school districts at this time of year,” she said. “We just want to be certain that we get through to these kids and explain to them the importance (of driving safely). We really want to make it as realistic as possible and intense.”

For senior Dustin Strittmatter, emergency response runs in the family. His sister is a Patton fire responder and his father is deputy fire chief for the company.

“I saw (an actual crash) before. I came up on it (while driving). It was scary,” he said. “It made me think about it, just seeing it happen again, but this time it was a demonstration.”

He said he also noticed the few students  who were jeering once the actors began screaming and flailing helplessly.

“They probably should take it more seriously,” he said. “If it really did happen, they probably wouldn’t be joking about this.”

As the jaws of life pried the doors off a silver sedan – whose driver was pronounced “dead” and bodybagged right in front of the student audience – the driver of the second car was submitting to a field sobriety test, stumbling to failure. She cried out as she was led in cuffs past the innocent she’d “killed.”“(The actors) did a fantastic job. I was really impressed with the young lady who was supposed to be DUI,” said Kane, who said she’d been close with youths involved in fatal accidents before.

“If I never ever have to talk to another parent who’s lost a child again, it’ll be too soon. ... Young kids shouldn’t die before their parents.”

Brant said that’s what this program is all about.

“I’d sooner spend my time educating and preventing accidents from happening, rather than responding to them,” he said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • bomb1 VIDEO | A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO | Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.25.07 AM.png VIDEO | Cement truck crashes into minivan

    A professor at Texas A&M University was fortunate to escape serious injury recently when a cement truck ran a red light at a College Station intersection and crashed head-on into his minivan. A dash camera that Dr. Guan Zhu had installed about a year ago captured the entire incident.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • McCutchen hair.jpg VIDEO: Pittsburgh catches on to McCutchen's hairstyle

    Major League Baseball is using Andrew McCutchen in its newest advertisement. The spot is part of the "For the Love of Baseball" campaign and features the Pittsburgh residents showing their support for the Pirates center fielder and reigning National League MVP by wearing their hair in his trademark dreadlock style.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 4.02.29 PM.png VIDEO | Nebraska prom mishap goes viral

    A group of 22 high school students from Pierce, Neb., all decked out in prom finery, took an unplanned dip in a four-foot-deep pond when the bridge they were posing on for pictures gave way. Photos from the incident have gone viral on social media.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 3.36.06 PM.png 3 apps to make your flight easier

    Whether you fly once a week for work or once a year for a vacation, you can bet that all areas of your trip are being monitored by smart phones. While it isn't hard to find an app with your flight info, some apps make the process of flying a lot simpler.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO | White House may ban selfies

    The White House wasn't too pleased after Red Sox player David Ortiz snapped a selfie with President Obama that was later used promotionally by Samsung.

    April 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.43.57 AM.png VIDEO | Amazing dance moves at NCAA title game

    Eye-catching action wasn't confined to the court at AT&T Stadium Monday night during the NCAA Championship game between UConn and Kentucky. This pair -- apparently a father and son -- delighted the crowd during a timeout with some synchronized dance moves.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • hank_aaron_display_image.jpg VIDEO | Aaron's historic homer

    On the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career home run, take a look at the historic moment as it happened.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • stars VIDEO | Ex-pros, local hoops stars tip off at War Memorial Arena

    Fans from all corners of the county were thrilled Friday night when hometown hoops stars stood tall next to former pro ballers at the War Memorial Arena’s inaugural Cambria County All-Stars Basketball Game – even though the height differential between the two teams was quite unfavorable.
    SportsPower International bands former NBA and international basketball players together, touring them around the world and spreading positive Christian ideals through the love of the game.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results

House Ads