Kalaheo Students Get A Crash Course On Impaired Driving

Kalaheo High School

Tamara Cacal is on the gurney, acting as a victim at the mock crash held on Mokapu Boulevard fronting Kalaheo High School to alert students to the consequences drunk driving and other unsafe practices. Leanna Sanchez-Abella is the victim on the ground. Police officer Sonny Kanoho directs the emergency response as the entire student body witnesses the carnage. Photo by Nathalie Walker, nwalker@midweek.com.

Bloodied bodies were strewn on the ground as emergency personnel rushed from their vehicles to tend to the carnage. That was the scene at Kalaheo High School in early February when the school re-created a car crash to drive home to students the impact of drinking and driving.

The mock crash was the culminating activity for Drug Free Week, which invited community groups such as The Hawaii Meth Project and Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii to set up information tables with various activities during lunch. In addition to the hazards of drunk driving, students learned the effects of poor decision-making when it comes to texting, smoking, drugs, traffic safety (jaywalking) and seat belt use.

For the dramatized crash, student actors coordinated with actual police, firefighters and EMS staff to make it look real. The entire student body assembled outside to view the aftermath of the accident, which included the first responders, a crime scene investigation, a DUI arrest, the arrival of the coroner to place the victims in body bags and, finally, a mock funeral.

Students Leanna SanchezAbella, Malia Hulleman, Tyler Williams, Tammra Cacal, and Sarah Echevary from the Peer Education Program (PEP) created the accident scene and participated as “victims.” Under the supervision of PEP teacher Nicholas Perih, they also wrote the storyline and created the storyboard and proposal, which they presented to the first responders. Student council members also helped by planning assembly logistics and the funeral.

Classes that day addressed emotions and concerns the event triggered, and teachers and counselors made themselves available to students who were emotionally affected by the scene.

“Students responded really positively to the event,” said student activities coordinator Richard Lau. “Most students were completely engaged as they observed first responders treating the victims and arresting the driver.

“Students commented that although this was a mock car crash, the scene looked and sounded real. During the funeral, students felt the impact it made on family and friends of the victim.

“It was a very effective and visual way to teach students the effects of poor decision-making.

“It took the effort of the entire community to teach this important lesson to our students. Mahalo to the City and County of Honolulu, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, Borthwick Mortuary, GP Roadway Solutions, ‘Olelo, Mahealani Diego (makeup artist) and City Councilman Ikaika Anderson for making this happen.

“The city selects one school each year to put on this event. Kalaheo was very fortunate to have been selected.”