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Bloomington Herald-Times

March 29, 2012

IU mock crash event attempts to discourage drunken driving
By Christy Mullins
March 29, 2012

Two crushed sedans, a bloody body through a windshield and a driver in handcuffs were all part of a mock crash Wednesday on the Indiana University campus.

With Little 500 Weekend on the way, the goal was to discourage students from driving under the influence of alcohol.

Real police, real emergency professionals, real firefighters, a real medical helicopter, several student volunteers, and a makeup artist with nearly 25 years of experience with scar masks and prosthetic bones demonstrated what typically happens during a fatal drunken-driving crash.

There were drunken driving simulators, too, and even a raffle.

Some students won breath-alcohol analyzer keychains, and one lucky student won a corn hole game.

Indiana Collegiate Emergency Medical Services and Delta Tau Delta fraternity organized the mock crash, called "In an Instant."

They hoped the message was clear.

"Everybody takes something away from it," said Scott Sargent, clinical educator for IU Health Bloomington Emergency Transportation Services.

Sargent acknowledged that at least one row of the crowd chatted, giggled and even narrated through the mock crash.

"That's typical," he said. "But maybe they will sit down and think about it later."

Mike Grainda, a junior pre-med student and events director for Delta Tau Delta, said the turnout was mostly fraternity brothers and the friends they invited to the event outside Foster Residence Center. The medical helicopter drew a lot of people, he said. And that wasn't a cheap effect.

Still, there were hecklers.

"Rip iiit," junior Gabe Mendoza shouted, as emergency workers used extrication tools to cut the door off a mangled white Volvo. It had, in the mock scenario, hit another white sedan head-on, causing at least one fatality. The most obvious "dead" body had been splayed on the hood of the car, fake blood smeared everywhere.

"Where the hell's the helicopter," Mendoza asked himself out loud. Minutes later, an Emergency Air Evac medical helicopter landed on the stretch of lawn. "Yes! Finally!" he yelled again, over the helicopter's whirling blades.

After the last "dead" body was loaded onto a stretcher, Mendoza stood up to leave. But he stopped to answer some questions.

First, he said the event wasn't totally believable.

"Like the drunk driving simulator, that wasn't realistic," he said. But he thought the professional makeup artist did a good job making the injuries look real. "One girl had her eye popped out. It was cool. They had special effects and everything."

Later, Mendoza admitted he thought there was something funny about the makeup. "I mean, look at her eyeball."

The mock crash didn't change Mendoza's opinion at all about the dangers of drunken driving, he said. Instead, "It reinforced what I already knew."

Mendoza, the proud winner of a breath-alcohol analyzer keychain, waved it in the air during the mock crash. "I can't wait to test this out later," he said, and blew into it.

This year's Little 500 men's bicycle race is set for April 21. Traditionally, that's the biggest party weekend of the year at IU, but alcohol-related traffic accidents and arrests happen year-round.

Indiana State Police troopers arrested 17 people on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated during OWI saturation patrols March 16 and 17 in the Bloomington district, which covers Monroe and bordering counties.

The patrols resulted in 175 traffic tickets, 397 traffic warnings and 14 other criminal arrests. A sobriety checkpoint in Morgan County March 16 also yielded three alcohol-related criminal arrests.