Mahar holds mock car accident ahead of prom


Staff Writer

Published: 05-11-2023 4:50 PM

ORANGE – For high school seniors, spring is a time of accomplishment – graduations, college acceptance letters, job offers ... and proms.

But bad decisions can quickly turn joyous occasions into unforgettable tragedies.

With this in mind, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School organized a mock car crash in one of its parking lots on Thursday afternoon to encourage juniors and seniors to make good choices the night of their joint prom on May 20.

“I think it went super well. We haven’t done this since pre-Covid,” Principal Scott Hemlin said after the roughly 150 students filed back inside at about 2 p.m. “Juniors and seniors were out here. The plan is to do this every two years. So, the next time we do it, it’s the current freshmen and sophomores.”

The students came out to the parking lot shortly before 1 p.m. to find two heavily-damaged vehicles with four classmates – junior Dominic Whitman and seniors Peter Frost and Luke Chiodo – trapped inside. Senior Sophia Woods was walking around the wreckage and calling out to the “victims.” All four students were covered in fake blood. Woods’ screams were soon interrupted by the blaring sirens of two Orange Police cruisers, followed by the Orange Fire Department.

“It feels like it takes an eternity for people to get here to help, doesn’t it?” Matt Wolkenbreit, executive director and lead instructor of Community911 Training, who conducts the Orange Fire Department’s EMS training, said to the student spectators.

Police Officer Evangeline Cakounes played the part of consoling Woods, taking her away from the accident scene before placing her in handcuffs for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Cakounes broke character to address the student spectators, telling them what first responders would do in a situation like this and urging them to take this demonstration to heart. Firefighters used instruments to extricate the boys from the vehicles. Whitman, declared “dead” at the scene, was placed onto a gurney and loaded into a Witty’s Funeral Home hearse. Frost was extricated and taken to a LifeFlight helicopter waiting on the school’s soccer field.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Two killed in Royalston collision
Storms leave hundreds without power in Athol, Greenfield
Homeless living in Athol garage say cost of housing is biggest obstacle
Athol committee considers ways to deter trespassers at parking garage
Upgrades planned for Athol’s retail shopping area
Senate charts course to soothe ‘struggling’ health sector

Following the demonstration, the three LifeFlight employees addressed the students and urged them to act responsibly.

“We are not the people you want to see on prom night,” fight nurse Sara Sullivan said, standing next to flight medic Charlie Pim and pilot Mark Musgrove.

Sullivan told the Greenfield Recorder she and her crew had flown in from Worcester for the mock accident.

Fire Chief James Young told the students he was pleased to see them paying attention and said that while simulations are fun, real-life scenarios like this are not.

“We’ve seen far too many young lives taken too soon,” he said.

The junior-senior prom will be held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, according to Hemlin.

The vehicles used in the demonstration were donated by Brookside Auto Parts in Orange.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.