PSC Students Coordinating Mock DUI Accident

By Richard Kerns - rkerns@newstribune.info - Mineral Daily News Tribune Staff Writer

KEYSER – Seeking to reinforce the importance of not drinking and driving, a group of students at Potomac State College is hosting a mock-crash Thursday afternoon to demonstrate the real-world consequences of DUI.

Students in Sociology 207-Real World Problems, the three young people did not have to cast about very far when challenged to find a societal problem and develop either an educational or intervention program to address that issue. DUI cuts across all socio-economic, demographic and age levels.

“We came up with quite a bit of statistics to show it is a widespread problem,” said Barbara Ludwig, who worked on the project with fellow students Zachary Minshall and Malika McCray.

Through their research, the students learned that drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime in the U.S., with about 30 percent of Americans involved in a DUI crash during their lifetimes. More than 40 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. involve alcohol, with one person killed on average every 31 minutes, and one person injured every two minutes.

Thursday's mock crash represents the educational component of the students' project. The program will be held at 5 p.m. in the Armory parking lot behind the Church-McKee Arts Center and is open to the public. The centerpiece of the program will be a wrecked vehicle that has been repurposed to serve as the DUI crash car.

More than just a static display, the program will feature a live response from law enforcement officials as well as members of the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department and Keyser EMS, who will be able to count the activity toward their own training requirements. A make-up artist is slated to provide a bloody makeover for the crash “victims.”

Minshall said he hopes the sound of the approaching sirens and jaws of life ripping at the vehicle's metal will convey a message that the typical DUI program might lack. That might swing someone's way of thinking about DUI,” Minshall said.

Ludwig is an EMT who runs with the squad in Capon Springs and has responded to numerous accidents, including DUIs. That experience helped convince her of the importance of Thursday's program. “When you see it's real, versus reading about it, it's a whole different story,” she said.

The students have been working on the program since classes began in September, gaining real-world experience in reaching out to various organizations and coordinating the particulars of Thursday's live display. The three said everyone they spoke with enthusiastically supported the effort, including the Keyser City Police, Sheriff Craig Fraley, members of the Keyser EMS and Keyser Volunteer Fire Department, and officials at the Armory. Boddy's Towing in Keyser donated the car. “Everyone has been real great to work with,” Minshall said.

Although coordinated through class, Thursday's program is designed for the entire community, and the public is urged to attend, not only to gain increased awareness of the effects of DUI, but to see emergency responders in action.

Asked what her message would be to those attending the program, McCray said she hopes the mock crash will help convince area residents that DUI is deadly. “Don't become a statistic,” she said.