On the morning of Friday, December 1, our sophomores, juniors and seniors gathered in the backyard for an impacting, eye-opening assembly. Organized by Sudden Impact Louisiana, a program led by University Medical Center (UMC) New Orleans’ Level 1 Trauma Center and funded by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, the students gathered to see a “mock crash” of a drunk driving accident. The mock crash hit close to home for our Crusaders while four of our seniors participated as the actors in the car crash portrayal.
The first vehicle included senior Cody Elsensohn, as the drunk driver, and senior Damon Smith, as the passenger who is ejected from the window and pronounced deceased on the scene from impact. The second vehicle included senior Francisco Garcia, as the driver with mild injuries, and senior Colby Coulon, as the passenger who is pinned in the vehicle with severe injuries and requires extrication. The first scene opens up with the two vehicles involved in a head on collision and the drivers, Cody and Francisco, frantically getting out of the vehicles to realize they recognize one another from school. Francisco confronts Cody about how much he had to drink at Colby’s birthday party earlier that evening. The reality of the situation was severe and the seniors remained in character to continue to remind the audience how horrific this collision will unfold to be.
“Playing such a big part in the Mock Crash was very eye-opening to me and I am honored to have this opportunity to send the message to kids like me who are starting to drive,” said senior Francisco Garcia.
As the situation progresses, it is apparent that the collision was caused by Cody’s negligent attitude while driving while intoxicated. Emergency personnel begin to appear on the “scene” and the students remain quiet as they watch the chaos unfold. Arriving on the sight of the mock crash, a Louisiana State Trooper responds to a 911 call and quickly calls for backup. Trooper Mire radios in for an Emergency Medical Services, the Coroner and EMS rescue to the collision. Meanwhile, Trooper Mire conducts a field sobriety test to confirm Cody’s intoxication level while operating a vehicle. He is then arrested for underage drinking, vehicular homicide and vehicular negligent injury. Cody is brought to Central Lock-up where his parents meet him. His parents, acting accordingly, are confused and devastated by the news. “Looking at Damon and Colby severely injured, fighting with Cisco, being arrested, confronting my parents, and watching this all happen really authenticated the situation for me,” reflected senior Cody Elsensohn.
Colby, who is trapped in the second vehicle, is extricated from the car by EMS rescue and brought to “University Medical Center’s trauma tent” for his severe injuries. Colby’s parents are then escorted into the “waiting room” to be told the news about their son and the accident. The look on Colby’s mother and father’s face was incredibly emotional and left the students speechless.
Remaining at the scene of the crash is Damon, the student portraying the mortally wounded passenger. The coroner arrives on the “scene” to remove his body; the quietness becomes bone-chilling. The State Troopers arrive at “Damon’s house” to give the death notification to his parents. The tears fell down Patrice Williams-Smith’s face when they gave her the “news.” “Although it wasn’t real, my emotions took over when I saw them pretending to take my son away in the body bag,” said Patrice Williams-Smith, mother of senior Damon Smith.
To conclude the mock crash, senior Tyler Epps (best friend of Damon) read a letter to Damon about how much he misses him after the car crash. The letter was an impacting way to encompass all of the emotion during the “mock crash” for our Crusaders. “Friday’s Sudden Impact Mock Crash had a serious emotional impact on me. It was a very moving experience to hear as my friend read a letter to me about my death. I hope that we were able to save some lives on Friday,” said senior Damon Smith.
Student Council President, Colby Coulon ’18, left the student body with these words after reflecting on his experience from the mock crash, “Guys, take Friday’s experience as a learning lesson, it’s not worth losing a friend, hurting yourself, or even letting your parents go through that type of situation. Take the safe route and buckle up. If you are out with some friends and they are drinking, call uber, a taxi, or even your parents to come pick you up. Stay safe guys.”
As a part of the Sudden Impact Program, Crusader Sophomores visit the Level 1 Trauma Center at University Medical Center, and as Seniors they follow-up with the Louisiana State Police and UMC presentation regarding distracted driving. This “mock crash” program takes place on campus every three years and “completes’” the educational awareness regarding decision-making as responsible drivers.
Thank you to all of our student actors and volunteers in the Mock Crash: Colby Coulon ’18, Francisco Garcia ’18, Damon Smith ’18, Cody Elsensohn ’18 and Tyler Epps ’18, as well as their parents. Also, Brother Martin extends a huge thank you to the Mock Crash program participants including Louisiana State Police, Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office, University Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center, Dr. Clement (from UMC), New Orleans EMS, Ashley Merritt for Make Up and DND Towing.