The crash was fake, but Havelock police officers used it to tell a very real message: Driving while intoxicated kills.
More than 500 juniors and seniors at Havelock High School witnessed a mock auto crash Thursday morning in which student Corey Cooper “died” and fellow student Brandon Weiland was “arrested” for causing the crash that killed him.
“It’s eye-opening,” student Landyn Terrell said. “It’s a good program and I hope everyone takes it seriously.”
The program, Every 15 Minutes, is designed to show students the very real ramifications of drinking while driving or distracted driving through the fake crash.
Students simulated a party where Weiland chugged a “beer” and then left with others to go get a friend. The next thing students heard was a 9-1-1 call about a head-on crash on N.C. 101.
“He’s not moving. I’m really scared,” the caller told police.
Thanks to makeup artists from the Nightmare Factory, the crash looked real. Cooper, initially groaning and moaning, went silent. His arm, streaked with makeup blood, dangled from the open window.
“It didn’t really hit me until they put the makeup on,” Cooper said of playing the role of the victim. “It was a little emotional. It’s a very serious issue.”
Fellow student actors Hannah Carney and Madison Weiland played the roles of injured passengers in the vehicles. They were wheeled away on stretchers in front of a distraught Brandon Weiland, who then was tested by police for driving while intoxicated. After blowing a .12 into a breathalyzer, he was handcuffed and put into a police car.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s “body” was pulled out of the vehicle and covered with a sheet. The scenario ended with the arrival of a hearse from Munden Funeral Home. Six pallbearers carried a casket to the center of the field.
“I hope all of you took this seriously,” Sgt. Kim Tutwiler told the students. “This is as close as you want to get to losing a friend.”
The Havelock police officer, along with officer Blake Young, helped organize the event. She said the goal was to teach the students the dangers of DWI and distracted driving through the scenario.
She told the students that she has been the officer who has called a mother to tell her that her child is never coming home. She doesn’t want to do it again.
“If I can save just one,” she said, “that’s one less phone call I have to make, that’s one less crying mom, that’s one less crying friend, that’s one less life lost.”