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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mock disaster teaches sobering lesson

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rescue workers work on Carlye McGaughey and Nikki Hamilton after having to cut off the roof of the wrecked car they are in. The girls were volunteer actors in a mock disaster put together by Zach Bowers at Operation Life.
BAINBRIDGE -- Two fatalities, one arrest and five injured students were a frightening reality check for North Putnam students Tuesday afternoon as county emergency personnel trained during a mock disaster at the school.

Kyle Adams, Shawn Diebold, Carlye McGaughey, Nikki Hamilton, Kayla Poole, Daryl, Madison and Autumn McClellan volunteered to be the victims in a two-car accident staged in front of the school.

The results were five injured students, two dead kids and one arrest for driving under the influence. Students lined the bleachers around the area watching as emergency responders from all over the county rushed in to aid the victims.

For more than 40 minutes, students watched wide-eyed as responders from Operation Life; Roachdale's PMH; Roachdale, Bainbridge, Russellville and Floyd Township volunteer fire departments, the Indiana State Police, Bainbridge and Roachdale marshals, Lifeline Air Rescue; and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department all worked to remove the tops of cars, aid victims and bag the ones who didn't make it.

One of the last acts of the responders during the mock disaster was to place the two fatalities in body bags and into a hearse.

Following the training session, students entered the gymnasium where they heard from Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, County Coroner Thomas Miller and former North Putnam student Corey Dean.

Fire Chief Mike Poole asked the students who played victims to describe their experience.

"It was kind of weird. It could happen, you know. You should definitely wear your seatbelt," said Kyle Adams, who played a fatality that went through the windshield of the car and was dead when responders arrived on scene.

Nikki Hamilton played a backseat passenger in one of the cars.

"It was weird seeing all your friends around you when you are in an accident. It made me think it could really happen," she said.

Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller and rescue responders load Kyle Adams in a body bag into a hearse as part of the mock disaster at NPHS.
For the driver of the white car where kids were drinking Bud Light beer, an added element came with driver Madison McClellan being arrested and taken away in handcuffs.

"The handcuffs were not a good feeling," he told students.

Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter told students what they had just witnessed was not the end. He went on to tell them about having to deal with parents of victims and other family members as well as anyone arrested.

"When there is a dead body and alcohol or drugs are involved, somebody is going to jail," he said. "It doesn't matter if you are 18 or president of your class -- you are going to jail."

He noted that any car made after 1999 had a black box in it that can determine the speed of a vehicle in a crash.

He also commented that 99 percent of the time the driver of the car lives and the passengers die.

Bookwalter began his slide show of Putnam County fatalities. As his slides changed, gentle sobs could be heard from those sitting in the bleachers watching. A few students had to leave the program.

He described what the "death rattle" sounds like. He told stories about parents and family members and their attempts to deal with tragedies.

"Statistically, every year I know we're going to have at least two deaths in Putnam County from these kinds of accidents. Last weekend, we tragically saw one in Cloverdale," said Bookwalter. "It's been more than four years since we had a serious accident around prom time. We're due."

"Be smart and be careful. Do it so you are safe so we don't have one of these situations," he concluded.

Roachdale Fire Chief Mike Poole then introduced someone most of the students already knew -- former North Putnam student Corey Dean.

While a student at North Putnam in December 2007, 16-year-old Dean and his fellow teammate and best friend Zach Hedrick, 18, were on their way to board a bus for the county basketball tourney around 2:45 p.m. Their vehicle hit a sheet of black ice not far from the school on CR 800 North. They were not speeding and were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dean's vehicle went off the road and flipped several times. When it stopped, the top was caved in. Dean's head hit the windshield and he was thrown out of the vehicle through his side window. He had a collapsed lung and other traumatic injuries that landed him in critical care for 15 days at Methodist Hospital followed by six more days in St. Vincent's.

Rescue workers rush Autumn McClellan to an ambulance during the mock disaster held at North Putnam High School recently.
Hedrick was also injured, but not as seriously.

Passersby stopped at the scene and were assisting both boys when emergency personnel arrived. Dean was taken to Hendricks Community Health and was later airlifted to Methodist.

"I couldn't tell you a single thing they did in all that time," said Dean. "I had to relearn everything, how to walk, how to talk, how to write my name. I still have memory problems."

He talked about having thoughts of suicide and about the effect his accident had on his family and his best friend.

"My mom wrote a daily journal of my day-by-day progress and I cannot read it without losing it," he told students. "I can't believe what they went through. My sister thought she was going to have to bury her little brother."

"Without my dad, Mike Poole and people like them, I wouldn't' be here. Zach sat by my bed day after day and told my parents it should have been him. This wreck really changed my life," he said. "Tomorrow is not a sure thing."

One of the things emphasized by everyone speaking at the assembly was to wear a seatbelt. Dean did not have on his seatbelt the day of his accident.

"I hope you guys take something from this because, take it from me, you don't want to live it," concluded Dean.

County Coroner Thomas Miller took the stage next and told kids, "It doesn't get any more real than that. What you heard from Mr. Dean is real. That is real life."

Miller went on to tell kids more statistics. Sixty percent of all drivers before the age of 18 are involved in an accident. Then he had students who had drivers licenses stand up.

"If you've had an accident remain standing, the rest of you sit down," he said. A large number of students remained standing.

Zach Bowers, manager at Operation Life, coordinated the mock disaster. Every year around prom time, emergency personnel volunteer their time to present a mock disaster to try to influence kids not be drive under any influences, to wear their seatbelts and to stay safe.

"Prom night could be the best night of your life or it could be the worst night of you life. Think," said Miller.

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Thank you to all the resuce staff for sharing this with the students and for being there everyday to pick up the peices. I know the young lady from Cloverdale who is in Critical condition, drinking was involved and they were not wearing seatbelts, Everyday teenagers make good choices and bad ones, This affects everyone!!!

-- Posted by NPmom66 on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 8:12 AM

npgrad2008....back off! This is a great thing that all of the departments help on! This is a great article. If you dont like reading about it, then move to Indy and read about all the murders there! Seriously grow up!

-- Posted by proudemt on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 10:19 AM

npgrad2008... It didn't do any good for you in 2008 because you thought you were too cool for it. Just pay attention and realize what is going on. These students are able to see a reaction to alcohol abuse right before prom. If it stops one student , or all of them, from drinking and driving on prom night, the mock situation was a success.

-- Posted by nlien on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 10:46 AM

npgrad2008...maybe YOU spent time messing around outside and not paying attention but I know when they did this when I went to school there, eyes were glued and there wasn't a peep from the onlookers. Not everyone acts like jerk. And nlien is right, if seeing the mock situation and looking at the slide show of fatalites makes just one student stop and think and choose not to drink and drive, then it was a success.

-- Posted by putnammom on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 11:06 AM

When I went to school there, they didn't make all of the class go see this. Unsure of why this happened. The only time we got to see this was when we took drivers ed, which was way before prom!! And I still remember the video we had to watch. nlien and putnammom, I agree with both of you.

-- Posted by proudemt on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 11:29 AM

I think that it is important to have this article in the Banner, as all the county schools are getting ready for prom and graduation. Kids today need to be aware of their actions and what could happen if they make the wrong choice. Year after year our kids make some choices that change the community in more ways than one, and if it takes the Banner for covering this every year so be it. There is that hope that just one kid was paying attention and will not make a bad choice. My daughter goes to NP and was very touched by this and she also said that she noticed most of the other students at NP were as well. I am proud to live in a community where our emergency departments can come together and make an impact on someone(s) life. Great job Putnam County emergency departments and NP for keeping our kids safe and I hope that we do not have to face a tragedy as our kids attend prom this weekend.

-- Posted by RDALERESIDENT on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 12:36 PM

at least someone is trying to do something good!! i hope Greencastle gets this lesson- Even it upsets some kids it will make them think and may save a life -If the kids do not come away with a life lesson they have lost out

-- Posted by talkymom3 on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 12:41 PM

They should do this at ALL Schools... this is the 1st time I have heard about it..

It might not have worked for you npgrad2008 - but it will work for other kids.

-- Posted by luv2bmom2001 on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 4:27 PM

npgrad2008..If that is true, then those students that are messing around during the mock disaster should not even be allowed to go to the prom as punishment. You want to act like a child, then maybe you aren't mature enough to go to the Prom.

You are acting as if putting this on, is a bad thing. I mean honestly, it doesn't hurt anything. It can ONLY help. Maybe a family has just moved to this area and hasn't seen it in the paper before. The Banner also reports on the Relay for Life every year and the Breakfast with Santa, the fair, the 4th of July celebrations..etc. Do you complain about that? The students that participate in the mock disaster deserve recognition every year!

-- Posted by putnammom on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 11:05 AM

I am a paramedic that has to scrape these kids up off the road, and if your not out there doing it, you cant comprehend what we emergency responders of all levels go through at the scene and after the scene. This isnt just about PROM its about every time they get behind the wheel, it dosnt end after prom there's 364 more days were trying to keep them from making a bad decision. Dont forget you or your children could be in the car of innocent people also dont forget the drunk driver usally survives. As I tell my 18 year old senior, "its not always you Im worried about its the other drivers that concerns me more". so if in reality these kids are more aware of there surroundings that could also save there lives. Each and every one of us who volunteered that day are proud to represent our service each and every day along with every other emergency worker in this county.

-- Posted by morta on Sun, Apr 25, 2010, at 11:38 PM

God Bless all first responders and emergency personnel who are willing to respond and save, teach and do whatever it takes to keep people smart and safe.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'em drink!" You never know when you will get through to that one person whose life you will save!

I know a very personal story about a volunteer firefighter in Bainbridge who spoke from his heart to a nephew and niece about drug use and the heartache he had witnessed at a fire at a meth lab. That made a life and death difference for one of those kids! So, once again, God Bless our hero emergency workers... and Keep ON! You DO make a difference!

-- Posted by AnnieO on Tue, Apr 27, 2010, at 8:59 PM

Printing this over and over again, year after year is not a bad thing. Kids do grow up and those who did not go to prom say, three years ago, will be going this year-so each year new students will see it. It is never a bad thing to keep reminding us ALL that life can be lost in a fraction of a second due to someone drinking and driving, or just not paying attention. Sadly, this re-enactment won't sink-in for all, but for many it will. I feel quite good about the fact that these great people volunteered their time and all the work that went into planning and creating this mock scene and will read about it every time the BG prints it.

-- Posted by thatslife on Wed, Apr 28, 2010, at 4:36 PM

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