Simulation designed to enlighten students

Drunk driving accident part of weeklong activities

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If you go

What: South Routt Underage Drinking Community Forum

Where: Oak Creek Community Center

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Call: Colleen Lyon, director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, at 879-6188

— With a gruesome car accident scene providing the backdrop, Soroco High School's student body sat in silence Tuesday as the students listened to fellow classmate Nahila Bonfiglio describe what happened and how two of her friends died.

Although the accident was simulation to show students what could happen if they were involved in a drunk driving accident, event organizers said the message was clear.

"There is an element of reality here. It makes them aware that this is to be taken seriously," said Colleen Lyon, director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

Grand Futures is a community-based substance abuse prevention organization in Northwest Colorado.

The coalition provides education, training and research services in Routt, Grand and Moffat counties.

This year, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, along with South Routt School District officials, Soroco High School student leaders, law enforcement officers from the Routt County Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol, Oak Creek Police Department, Oak Creek Fire Protection District, and Routt County Deputy Coroner Mitch Locke, demonstrated what a two-vehicle, double-fatal drunk driving accident scene would look like.

Fake blood covered the faces of the student-actors participating in the mock scene, and they went through all the steps victims of accidents go through - from the initial 911 call to being extricated from the car and taken to the hospital.

For senior Jake Woffard, being "arrested" for driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular assault was an eye-opening experience.

"It was pretty scary. It was nerve racking and really hard to tell what was going on," he said. "It's hard to imagine what that would be like if that really did happen here."

Sending a very clear message was crucial in planning the event, he said.

"People always think it could never happen to them, or to our friends, but it does happen.This could happen to you or a friend," he said.

Colorado State Patrol Jim Copley, who assisted with the accident re-enactment, said he was glad the demonstration involved all the "real steps" of handling an accident scene.

"Hopefully it gives them a real-life image of what happens to you if you drink and drive. There are no second chances," he said.

Lyon said the intent of the activity was to bring awareness of substance abuse to Soroco Middle and High School students, especially because Oct. 23 to 31 is National Red Ribbon Week.

Students from Soroco Middle School spent Wednesday planting 100 red tulip bulbs on school grounds as a symbol of their intentions to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

The tulips will bloom around April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month.

In an attempt to reach the entire South Routt community about underage substance abuse, a community forum is planned from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Oak Creek Community Center.

Anyone from the community interested in receiving education about underage abuse and discussing ways to encourage students to stay away from harmful substances is invited, Lyon said.

"Teenagers have a tendency to believe they're invincible. Unfortunately. these situations that we've seen today do happen. There can be fatalities. There are consequences for poor choices," said Dr. James Chamberlin, principal of Soroco Middle and High School.

"Even if this only impacted one student to not drink and drive or get in a car with someone who has been drinking, it was worth it," he said.

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