Staged auto accident outside high school delivers chilling message

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge High School staged a roadside accident Thursday, March 31, to show students the tragic consequences of drunk driving. The display was outside the high school and involved police, fire and medical squads; a towing company; high school students; and a hearse from a local funeral parlor. The last time the event was performed was 2012.

It was coordinated by GRHS science teacher, and student government advisor, Danielle Purciello. The scenario did not lack for details. And Purciello said students, well-known to the student body, were used as the actors to give the enactment greater impact.

Two cars were provided by the towing company. According to Purciello, it was decided at the last minute to place one of the cars on its roof, as though it had flipped over from the accident.

There were two students in this car. Five students had occupied the second car.
It was the driver of this second car, according to Purciello, who was drunk.

A female passenger, who was seated in the front seat of the second car and not wearing a seatbelt, died in the mock crash. In fact, when the overturned car was uprighted by the tow truck, Purciello said all the students assumed positions in the cars and were rescued.

There were also injuries. One person was paralysed from the accident, another had head injuries. The fatality was pronounced at the scene. She was placed on a board, covered with a sheet, put into the back of the hearse, and driven away.

Make-up for the injuries was provided by students and teachers. Some of the students were part of GRHS theatricals. Afterward, students were debriefed in small groups, according to Purciello.