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Mock crash moves Mount Si students to think twice before drinking, driving

The sound of sniffles filled the Mount Si High School gym as the casket was rolled out for senior Rossco Castagno.

Castagno played the part of the victim in a fatal drunk-driving accident during a mock DUI presentation held Thursday, May 13, at the Mount Si campus. The memorial and the accident scene that preceded it that morning behind the school may not have been real, but moved students to tears just the same.

“It’s an emotional situation,” said Mount Si junior Aubrey Larion. “It affected me, because it made me realize that these things happen everyday, and how tragic they are.”

Lined up along the stadium fence, Mount Si juniors and seniors heard the sound of sirens while witnessing the aftermaths of a head-on collision, resulting from bad decisions at a pre-prom party. The mock accident is held every two years at Mount Si High School to help keep students from making potentially deadly mistakes during the prom and graduation season.

“It’s really an impactful event,” said Mount Si ASB Advisor Charlie Kinnune. “We do it to save lives.”

The scene was set in the gym, where students watched a video of a group of seniors partying and drinking before heading to prom. On screen, teens watched as a mock-inebriated senior Sam Evans take the wheel of his car with two other passengers. They were then led outside, where Snoqualmie police and firefighters, Bellevue paramedics, Eastside Fire and Rescue personnel and Fall City and North Bend Fire Departments arrived to reveal the unfortunate consequences of Evans’ poor decision choices. Responders gave attention to realism, going as far as broadcasting the accident over the police radio after a parent dialed 911.

As Evans ran aimlessly in a stupor, looking for help for his two passengers, student Melanie Jenkins hung out of the windshield. Later, she was announced as dead. Andrew Sypher, meanwhile, lost an arm.

Students continued to watch as firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pull students out of the crushed cars, start CPR, and perform drunk-driving tests.

Memorial lesson

After witnessing the gruesome scene, students returned to the gym, where they encountered Castagno’s casket during a staged memorial to his life.

Leaving the crowd emotionally moved, speaker and parent Eric Munson shared his real-life experience with a similar tragedy.

Munson’s daughter Heidi died at the age of 19 in a car accident involving drugs, alcohol and reckless driving. He told students how her accident affected his family — and how it could have been prevented.

“Whether you drink or not, the only way to ensure not getting hurt is not to be there in the first place,” he said. “My little girl was, and it cost her life.”

Real crashes not only affect students and their families, but the entire community, said Snoqualmie Fire Lt. Kelly Gall.

“We go through accidents like this everyday,” he said. “We hate seeing this, and it can be avoided.”

Principal Randy Taylor said the mock crash drives home the lesson that one wrong choice can mean a lifetime of impact.

“It’s a traumatic presentation,” he said. “It’s pretty heartfelt. The kids really took it to heart today.”

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