Two cars stood mangled in Carter Field last Wednesday evening. Police officers and firefighters rushed to the scene as the emergency evacuation helicopter landed in the opening to carry the survivors to the nearest hospital. One of the girls involved in the crash was deceased upon impact, and two more severely injured.
This was the scenario being acted out by the Pi Beta Phi sorority at their event, Mock Crash, early last week.
Lauren Valigosky, a first-year majoring in speech pathology and a member of Pi Beta Phi, says the sorority hosted the event to help bring awareness to the real consequences of drinking and driving, specifically to those on campus.
“It’s actually because one of our sisters, 20 years ago, got in a really fatal car crash and actually died because of a drunk driver hitting her,” Valigosky said. “And so we thought it would be perfect to put on an event to spread awareness on how bad it is to drink and drive.”
The event had three stages, she said, beginning with the fake crash portion in Carter Field.
Will Pecsok, the director of the Counseling Center, worked with Pi Beta Phi to organize the event and was at the field when the fake crash occurred.
“I think that was a very powerful thing,” Pecsok said, “when the police actually arrived on the scene.”
During the scenario, Valigosky played one of the three girls injured in the crash itself and said it was a very different experience being involved.
“It was way more real for me,” Valigosky said. “I know they made it completely silent and when the EMT’s came in, one of the girls that got flung out of the window was actually like crying and I could hear her.”
The next portion of the event was the faux funeral for the girl that passed away in the crash, held in the Greek Village.
Amanda Mager, a third-year studying adolescent young adult integrated science education, attended the event.
“I attended it as a Greek Week event with some of my sisters in Delta Phi Epsilon,” said Mager.
Mager said one of the most powerful portions of the Mock Crash was the portion where they put on the fake funeral.
“It really hit home for me when we walked back to the village and the girl who died had a funeral ceremony. There was a casket cover with her face on it. They were handing out cards with pictures of her to remember her life,” Mager said. “I just remember seeing a baby picture and then a graduation picture with her and her parents and I thought about all the plans she had and how they were taken away due to someone else’s carelessness. It wasn’t fair.”
Next, the event moved to the Law Center for the third and final portion of the event, the mock trial of the person who was drinking and driving.
The Counseling Center had a large part in putting together this portion of the event, according to Pecsok, going as far as to bring in people to play lawyers and a real judge to reside.
At the end of the fake trial the judge sentenced the driver to three years in jail and three years of probation, Pecsok said.
“The mock hearing really put a lot of things into perspective for me,” Mager said. “I was really thinking about Jacob [the driver] and everything he had to live with. Sure, he was only sentenced to three years in prison, had to pay fines, and he had to pay for the funeral expenses, but he has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed an innocent girl.”
The sorority and the Counseling Center hoped to use the event as a way to show everyone on campus what really happens when you drink and drive.
“What we want them to do is be aware of the dangers they’re in and the risks they are taking. And hopefully take a look at adjusting some of these behaviors,” Pecsok said.
This was the first time the sorority put on the event, according to Pecsok, but it was successful, and was able to work towards helping the community.
“I think the goal of the event was to create a situation that students here could relate to. It took a public safety announcement and gave it a face,” Mager said.
According to Pecsok, the Counseling Center and Pi Beta Phi hope to keep working on this goal, getting DUI numbers in the area down drastically, hopefully to zero.