Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office

Watching a mock crash scenario unfold where a Smyrna High School student pretended he died and other students acted out being hurt from a DUI prom night crash “made it real,” said heath science teacher Courtney Pruitt.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Boyd narrated for seniors how the prom night crash resulted in the “death” of a student whose blood-covered body was draped outside the window and other passengers cried out in mock pain.

To make the crash more realistic, theater students applied makeup to the crash victims and a towing company provided the wrecked cars.

School Resource Officer Matt Arrington pretended to arrest the impaired driver while Smyrna Police officers started the investigation, Smyrna firefighters checked the patients and Emergency Medical Services paramedics treated the victims.

Volunteer funeral home directors solemnly loaded the “body” into a hearse.

Pruitt worked with Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to conduct the drill. The hospital helps sponsor similar scenarios annually at Rutherford County High Schools to prevent DUI crashes on prom night and other senior activities.

Students are in control of their actions, the teacher said. The mock crash shows what happens when they make poor choices.

“Seeing it in action made it real,” Pruitt said. “I’m thankful the community pulled together to do this. We love our students and we want them to know their choices have consequences.”

Arrington teaches students in driver’s education classes about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular homicide.

“I think it made a difference when they walked out and saw it,” Arrington said of the students’ reactions. “They were able to see and the classes taught were emphasized.”

Sgt. Boyd and Paramedic Brent Carter, who helped organize the mock crash, fielded questions from students and emphasized the importance of wearing seatbelts, reducing speed, and discussed the legal consequences of vehicular homicide.

Principal Sherri Southerland told the seniors, “If you don’t think it happens to you, it happens every day.”

From a mother’s point of view, she advised seniors to call their parents for help if you need a ride from drinking before you drive. There are a lot of events in the senior year. “I want all of you there.”

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said, “We are proud to partner with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Smyrna Police and Fire, Rutherford County EMS, Rutherford County Schools, Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and other local businesses to demonstrate the serious results of impaired driving, driving at high speed, and distracted driving. As we approach prom and graduation season, we want to remind everyone to make safe driving decisions.”