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Operation Prom Night

People living near Lake Havasu High School that were home at about 9:30 a.m. on May 7 got a big surprise as four police cars, one police motorcycle, two fire trucks, a TV45 truck, and 2 helicopters arrived noisily to play their parts in a traffic accident simulation staged on the school's football field.

Medevac helicopter lands on LHHS football field.

The event was organized by Beth Titus, chairperson of the local Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, a group of locals who have gone through the Lake Havasu Police Department's Citizens Police Academy. With the help of other association members and local police, fire, and emergency services personnel, she put together Operation Prom Night, a drunk driving awareness scenario staged for the benefit of our high school students.

All Lake Havasu High School students were brought to the football field bleachers to watch the realistic scene play out. A red car and a white car were on the track just in front of the bleachers to simulate a vehicle crash. The white car was full of people. A girl's bloody head leaned against the driver's side rear window of the car, and a boy's upper torso stretched out the broken back window to lie over the trunk. The red car contained two people, but the bloody body of a boy dressed in white shirt and dark tie lay on the ground nearby. A girl in a prom dress was walking next to the crash site and talking excitedly on her cell phone to the 911 operator. Students heard the call over the PA system as she reported the accident. They heard the 911 operator attempt to get details from the girl.

Soon, police cars arrived. They came in the athletic field gate from Palo Verde. Two of them went clockwise around the track while the other two and a police motorcycle went counterclockwise. Lights were flashing and sirens were wailing as the vehicles kicked up clouds of red track dust. The field's public address system provided narration to the events as they played out. Fire trucks arrived. Firemen deployed hoses and jaws-of-life. They began to cut the roofs off the two vehicles. Emergency medical personnel removed victims from the vehicles and gave first aid. One medevac helicopter landed on the football field and then a second. A blond TV45 lady and her cameraman are off to the side, doing a live remote broadcast. The boy on the ground near the red car has now been covered with a yellow tarp. He is dead at the scene.

As the scenario continued, the teenaged driver of the white car, all dressed up for prom and apparently uninjured but for a bloody nose, is given a field sobriety test. He fails and is taken away in handcuffs. Police remove several liquor bottles from his car. The helicopters take off, transporting crash victims to the hospital. Firemen clean up the crash site and put away their equipment, just as they would at a real accident.

The event lasted about an hour. Organizers tried to make everything as realistic as possible. The high school student who played the injured/dead victim on the ground wore a bloodstained shirt and had extensive simulated damage on his face. His real life father is a member of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, and was at the event. He said even though it was all make believe, it was very difficult for him to see his son in that situation because it was so realistic.

Students had something very serious to think about as they returned to their classes. If you drink and drive, or allow your friends to drink and drive on prom night, or any night, this could happen to you.

Click an image for a larger view.

Accident scene.
Long view of crash scene.
Accident scene.
Close view of crash scene.
Accident scene.
Helping a victim.
Helping the injured.
Helping the injured.
A fatality.
A fatality.
Second helicopter lands.
Second helicopter arrives.
Two helicopters on the field.
Two helicopters on the field.

Helicopter takes off.
Helicopter takes off.