Williamsport’s mock car crash

Williamsport’s mock car crash

I attended one of my best friends’, Levi Roush, memorial service in the Williamsport Area High School auditorium with the entire student body on April 26.

His parents and sister stood on stage while his mother read a detailed overview of his life and a slideshow of countless pictures and memories played behind a casket covered in awards, books, a teddy bear and his performance t-shirts. Even the present I got him for Christmas was a part of the display.

While sitting there fighting the tears, I had never been so grateful for something to be pretend.

Every three years, under the direction of Mrs. Marie Fox and with the help of SADD club, administration and community members, the high school drama department puts together a “mock crash” to show students the consequences of distracted driving.

“I like to see everyone’s reaction, and I hope to see it change people,” Fox explained.

The two-hour program includes video segments, guest speakers, a live court hearing and a memorial service.

Unlike in years past, this “mock crash” included pre-recorded, high quality video segments of the “party” prior to the crash as well as the crash scene which allowed for a more realistic portrayal of the accident.

The video showed the emergency personnel arriving at the scene, the extraction of students from the vehicles using the Jaws of Life and Life Flight arriving at the scene to transport the most critically injured. Students also shot footage at other locations including the hospital, the morgue and the Lycoming County Prison.

“We started filming in mid-February. We met four different times to shoot all the scenes,” explained Quahme’ Powell, a junior who portrayed an overdose victim in the program. “It was so intense to have been a part of this project. It really forced me to see myself and my closest friends in life-threatening positions.”

For Leo Daverio, a senior who had the lead as Wadsworth in this year’s school play, “Clue,” taking on the role of the drunk driver was a different, yet difficult, feat.

“The whole process was very hard to go through,” Daverio explained. “But seeing the funeral of one of my best friends, a friend who I killed, and listening to his crying mother tell his life story, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as an actor.”

“I am grateful I got to be a part of such a high quality project with a very impactful message,” Roush said, actor who played the crash victim.

The rest of the cast watched the program from the auditorium’s light booth, but for Zola Riccardo, one of the student actors, this experience hit home even more than for the rest of us. “Even though I knew it was staged, it really hit me seeing Levi’s mom talk about all the things he wouldn’t get to do,” Riccardo explained.

After losing her best friend in a 2016 car accident, Riccardo knows firsthand what it’s like to lose someone close to her.

“I went and hugged Levi. This reminded me how important it is to appreciate your friends,” she said.

With prom season in full swing, the program hopes to remind students to make good choices.

“People don’t realize how much a person’s life and the lives of others can be affected and changed forever just through one bad decision,” Daverio said.

“We get to help show people that this stuff is no joke,” Powell said. “It’s so real, and it’s so important that people know that.”

“It’s a valuable program,” reflected Mrs. Fox. “That is why we try to up our game each time. In fact, we already have plans for the next mock crash and hope that it’s even better than this year’s.”

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