‘Arrive Alive’ shows Athol High School students the dangers of impaired driving

UMass Memorial Life Flight Lands at Athol High School, scene of the mock accident presentation “Arrive Alive,” held on  May 6.

UMass Memorial Life Flight Lands at Athol High School, scene of the mock accident presentation “Arrive Alive,” held on May 6. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

UMass Memorial Life Flight Lands at Athol High School, scene of the mock accident presentation “Arrive Alive,” held on Monday, May 6.

UMass Memorial Life Flight Lands at Athol High School, scene of the mock accident presentation “Arrive Alive,” held on Monday, May 6. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

First responders extricate the victim of a mock car accident held at Athol High School. The presentation was done to show students the results of impaired driving.

First responders extricate the victim of a mock car accident held at Athol High School. The presentation was done to show students the results of impaired driving. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Students portraying victims of a two-car accident get out of their vehicles during the “Arrive Alive” presentation held at Athol High School on Monday. 

Students portraying victims of a two-car accident get out of their vehicles during the “Arrive Alive” presentation held at Athol High School on Monday.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Monday’s “Arrive Alive” presentation showed Athol High School students the consequences of impaired driving. In the mock accident, one student was arrested and one pronounced deceased at the scene. 

Monday’s “Arrive Alive” presentation showed Athol High School students the consequences of impaired driving. In the mock accident, one student was arrested and one pronounced deceased at the scene.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Police and fire personal attend to victims of a mock car accident at Athol High School.

Police and fire personal attend to victims of a mock car accident at Athol High School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 05-07-2024 4:32 PM

ATHOL — As the school year winds down, Athol High School students got a realistic look at the dangers of impaired driving.

“Arrive Alive” showed a mock two-car crash on Monday, with five Athol High School students portraying the drivers and passengers. Two totaled vehicles were brought to the school grounds and the students were covered in fake blood. Athol firefighters and police officers, along with State Police, were present as a tarp over the two vehicles was removed to show the grisly scene.

As the mock crash began, the students were inside the vehicles. Two got out and wandered the area in a daze, asking what had happened. One of the students kept saying “I’m sorry” repeatedly.

Police and fire arrived and went through the standard procedures for crash responses. The three students who could walk were taken away to be medically evaluated, while firefighters began to extricate two others who were trapped inside and too injured to move. This included using the Jaws of Life to cut away parts of the vehicle.

A mannequin was used to portray a sixth student, ejected from the vehicle and still holding a beer can. This “student” was declared dead at the scene. During the demonstration, a woman ran toward the scene, yelling that it was her son in one of the vehicles before being stopped by police.

One of the badly injured students was placed into an ambulance and the other was taken away by a crew from a LifeFlight helicopter that landed on the school’s softball field. One of the students was given a field sobriety test, determined to be impaired, and arrested and charged with operating under the influence.

As the “Arrive Alive” demonstration came to a close, a hearse from Mack Family Funeral Homes took away the body of the “deceased” student.

Following this presentation, students heard from police and fire officials on what they deal with when responding to these calls. Athol Police Officer Brandon Newell said one of the drivers in “Arrive Alive” who had been “arrested” and stood before her classmates still wearing handcuffs had told officers that she had been drinking at a party. As a result of her impaired driving, her boyfriend had been “killed” in the accident.

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“Drunk drivers are everywhere,” Newell said. “Do your part to make sure no one you know is doing that.”

Athol High School Principal David King told the students that the decisions they make don’t just affect themselves. He said that when they get a driver’s license, they must understand the responsibility that comes with it.

“So that’s why you’re out of class for 90 minutes at the end of the day on May 6,” he said. “For you to fully understand the decision that you have every single time you get behind the wheel and impact that those decisions may have on other people in this school, in our community, in Massachusetts and the world.”

Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera said that what the students saw “happens way too often.” He reminded the students that the body that had been ejected through the windshield of one car still held a beer, a representation of what led to this scene.

“That’s not fake, that happens all the time,” he said.

Guarnera added that a friend of his son had been in a crash while under the influence, which caused a death.

“Don’t let this message fall on deaf ears,” he said.

Max Bowen can be reached at mbowen@atholdailynews.com or 413-930-4074.