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Something to think about: Drunk driving

Senior Kelly Groll, who played one of the victims in Wednesday's mock car crash at Beach High School, takes her spot on the ground. With graduation coming up, Golden Valley Emergency Manager Brenda Frieze said the event was meant to show students that their actions have consequences, along with being an exercise for local first responders.

BEACH -- The faint sound of a siren coming from a Golden Valley Sheriff's Department car began to echo in front of Beach High School on Wednesday and it didn't stop there.

A parade of emergency services flooded the school parking lot for a mock car crash that left area sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders with something to think about as they make choices to get behind the wheel or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.

"With graduations taking place all across the country, we would like kids to be safe and realize the consequences of their actions if they should so choose to drink and drive," said Golden Valley County Emergency Manager Brenda Frieze. "If we can prevent one teenage death due to driving under the influence, we will consider this a success."

Frieze said she and Alan Muckle, a member of the Beach Fire Department and Community Ambulance, put in a lot of work to organize the event.

"We're very grateful for everyone who participated, whether it was as a victim or a member of one of our entities," she said. "Hopefully, it will be a great lesson for our students and our first responders."

Representatives from the Beach Medical Clinic, local fire departments, Golden Valley County Sheriff's Department, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Angel Air Care, and Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home participated in the mock crash.

All of the student actors, who were drizzled with fake blood and peel-off wounds, walked away from the scene unscathed.

But that isn't always the case for many of the victims of the vehicle crashes North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Steven Clark tends to see, especially in the 15- to 24-year-old age group. The leading cause of death for that demographic, Clark said, is fatal crashes, sometimes due to alcohol but also because the victim was not buckled up.

"When I was in high school, we never saw things like this and it is one of the greatest things I've seen because, although it's a gruesome truth, it is a good representation of what we have to deal with," he said, adding that these incidences take an emotional and physical toll on the first responders. "When we go home, these incidences leave a lasting impression on us, especially in small communities like this."

While Frieze could not recall a student in Golden Valley County in recent years losing their life to a drunken driving accident, she hopes the students learned a lesson that it only takes one mistake to permanently alter the future.

"Having a reminder like this event will hopefully persuade these young kids to make a smart decision when put in this position," she said. "To my knowledge, a mock crash like this one hasn't occurred here in many years either. We'd like students to realize that, if they chose to drink and drive and something happens, it's a life sentence. You can't go back to change your mistakes."