CHICAGO (CBS) — Prom is a terrific milestone for high school students, but with just one drink terrific can turn into tragic.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, with prom season approaching, police and firefighters were taking steps to show students the potential consequences of driving drunk, with the help of some of their classmates.
Each year, more than 600 high school students die in drunk driving crashes on prom night.
Wednesday morning on the Northwest Side, students from St. Patrick High School and Notre Dame High School for Girls watched as police officers, firefighters, and student actors staged a head-on collision as part of “Operation Prom Night.”
Covered in fake blood, the crash victims had to be cut out of the car, then treated by paramedics. In one case, a girl who had been thrown through the windshield was placed in a body bag.
The driver, Ryan Young, a senior at St. Patrick, talked about acting out a drunken crash that seemed all too real.
“It was blood-chilling. I just felt it down in my spine,” Young said, his face smeared with fake blood. “I can’t even imagine what the real thing would be like.”
Jennifer Bleicher, coordinator of Operation Prom Night, said it was important for students to see friends take part in the staged crash, rather than actors.
“It’s not just like watching it on television, or in a movie where it’s just actors and it’s kind of a sterile thing. They get to see their classmates get arrested and put in body bags,” she said. “It makes them understand that they’re not invincible, and their friends aren’t invincible.”
Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen said the goal is to scare kids straight.
“The main objective is to instill in kids that they can have fun on prom night, and they don’t need to drink,” Nielsen said.
After the survivors were taken to area hospitals or jail, the actress who was thrown through the windshield was loaded into a hearse driven from the parking lot at St. Patrick.
Operation Prom Night has been presenting its program for 16 years.
Organizers said, during that time, more than 50,000 students have seen the demonstration and not one who did has been arrested for driving drunk during prom season.