PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry students were expecting a celebration for their Prom Promise efforts Thursday morning. Instead, the music was interrupted by the sights and sounds of a traffic collision as a grim reminder to put on their seat belts and put down the cell phones was re-enacted.
The wreck re-enactment, meant to show what can happen when driving under the influences or when being distracted, included simulated 911 calls reporting an accident involving three persons and two cars. As police analyzed the scene students found out over the public address system a drunk driver had been traveling 60 miles and hour in a 45 mile an hour zone and lost control in a sharp curve. A passenger in the other car was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown through the windshield.
Organizers for Prom Promise this year were Pilot Mountain Nationwide Insurance Agent Pam Morgan and Special Education Teacher Martha Cook. Cook said this is the fourth year of the prom promise, which has activities including signing pledges to drive safely. She said the pledge cards are collected for a drawing for free gifts such as a free tuxedo rental or gift cards as well as other prizes.
The accident scenario included family members arriving on the scene only to be met by police officers who gave them the bad news.
“This year I wanted to do something different that would have an impact,” explained Morgan. “I found about similar re-enactments on You Tube and adopted a script of our own based on that.” She said Pilot Mountain Emergency Medical Services Director Daniel Emanuel was instrumental in helping stage the accident.
“He was so excited,” said Morgan. “I honestly believe he’s gotten everyone in town excited about this including the (N.C.) Highway Patrol, Surry County EMS, Pilot Mount Police and the first responders. They all are coming in on their day off to help us do this. They demonstrated what could happen and what they could do. A part of this is our way of showing students we care and to get them to understand texting and driving and underage drinking is life changing.”
Morgan said she has encountered a lot of the consequences of bad decisions through her position as an insurance agent and said said one universal experience is “you can hear a pin drop when they figure it could happen to them.”
“I’ve been impressed by the donations and support the community has contributed to make this come together,” added Morgan. “It’s heartwarming and we have went to great lengths to stage something that could happen anytime. The setting is any normal night, not just prom night. I consider all these kids mine. We all have a responsibility.”
Cook has also had her life changed by automobile accidents. She said when she was 9-years-old a playmate of hers, who was a football, player was killed in a car crash. She said she sang at his funeral and will forever remember that loss. Other family and friends of Cook have also been involved in tragic automotive accidents.
“We are wanting to protect them (children) from bad choices,” said Cook. “They don’t understand Iit can happen to them. They have this sense of invulnerability.”
Cook praised the efforts of the East Surry Prom Promise Committee and said groups involved included Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad and Pilot Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, Surry County EMS, Sheriff Graham Atkinson, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, East Surry teachers and staff and Pilot Mountain Police Department. Hacker House volunteers Cliff Martin, Jenny Smouse and Amber Shreve did the makeup for the re-enactment and Northend Garage provided the wrecked cars. Jeff Russell of the Christian Band Thrown Stones operated the sound system.
Cook said this is the first year students have been involved on the Prom Promise committee and said they played an important part in getting gifts and prizes for the event.
“We are hopeful this will do more than affect parents, families, students and their friends,” added Cook. “We are hopeful this will have a positive ripple effect. Sadly, we already know tragedies like this affect us all.”
Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@Civitasmedia.com or 719-1952.