Students learn about dangers of drunken, distracted driving through Project C.R.A.S.H.

COBLESKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Seven local high school students were involved in a deadly drunk driving crash in Schoharie County — Don’t worry, it was all fake.

The mock collision is part of a new safe driving initiative for students across Schoharie County.

Every spring, typically the week of prom, you’ll find a mangled car parked out in front of a high school, reminding students of the dangers of drunk driving.

While that has certainly been an impactful approach, Project C.R.A.S.H. puts their friends and classmates behind the wheel.

Hundreds of teenagers sat silenced.

“It meant something,” Chad Boyles, student of Middleburgh High School, said. “It’s something that needs to sit with people.”

Many of them had tear stained cheeks.

“I saw a couple people crying… it was very sad,” said Samantha Chapman, a student of Gilboa Central School District.

They watched and realized that it was their classmates acting as the victims, being pulled from a mangled car, bloodied and injured. One didn’t make it out alive, another was placed in handcuffs.

“Yeah, Luke is also a friend and Emily, so that was weird to see them in it, but it’s eye opening, it’s a realization,” said Jacob Laraway, a senior from Middleburgh High School.

It was too much for 17-year-old Grant Mattice. He had to get up and walk out just minutes into the half hour film.

“I lost my cousin two years ago in a car crash,” Mattice said.

It was something one of the student actors wasn’t aware of until later, but glad to learn that their message was in fact being heard.

“Yeah, I’m glad that we put this point across to them,” Heidi Greiner, a student of Jefferson High School, said.

While it was all an act, students say it felt all too real.

That’s exactly what the creators of Project C.R.A.S.H. wanted.

“Our scenario plays out with drinking and driving, passenger distraction, cell phones, no seat belts, we tried to cover all aspects and that’s all depicted in the movie,” Schoharie County Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Baker said.

Deputy Baker spearheaded the project and was able to round up dozens of volunteers throughout the county to bring the project to fruition.

Some of those volunteers were from NEWS10, helping to make it as realistic as possible by putting together a fake news report to incorporate as well.

It was a county-wide effort, with dozens of volunteers putting in a lot of hours, to send an important message to the future of their community.

“Who didn’t make this happen? Sheriff’s office, Cobleskill PD, Schoharie Council of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, we had five fire departments, life net, three ambulance corps, county corners, [and] towing companies,” Baker said. “The students were phenomenal. One of our students was willing to get into a hearse, that’s pretty substantial,”

“I think a lot of people were moved by the video,” Chapman said.

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