As summer begins and graduation parties start to take place, Northfield High School students got a dose of reality when it comes to the dangers of drinking and driving Friday with a mock crash at the High School.
The biennial mock crash seeks to raise awareness on drunken driving and drive home a message of making good choices. The mock crash combines the efforts of several groups – including the Northfield Police Department, Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Services, the Rice County Sheriff’s Department, North Memorial Air Care, Benson-Langehough and Bierman Funeral Home and several others. One of those involved is Roger Fette. He donates the sound equipment for the mock crash in memory of his brother Greg, who was killed by a drunken driver 30 years ago.
On Friday, students witnessed three classmates get involved in a crash after one decided to drive drunk. The scene was a two-car crash involving teacher Kevin Dahle and his daughter Kally in one car and four students who had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in the other car.
The first mock crash was organized in 1998 as a collaboration between public safety organizations in Northfield and has continued every two years since.
NHS student Katie Brust played one of the victims involved in the crash and was airlifted from the crash scene by helicopter.
“It’s good to have it before graduation season and summer,” Brust said.
Students sat spellbound as classmate Henry Hofstad went through a range of emotions following the crash. From the realization of the death of his classmates to the field sobriety test he faced to the clinking of handcuffs around his wrists, it became a trying day.
Northfield Chief of Police Monte Nelson began the mock crash by saying anytime a teenager gets into a vehicle, it’s the most dangerous time for them.
“It is the No. 1 killer in your age group,” Nelson said of vehicle crashes. “Who are you willing to sacrifice? Wear your seatbelt and don’t drink and drive.”
Also on site for the mock crash were Northfield Public Safety Explorers who got to put their training to the test.
“This was a lot more of a real scenario to test our skills,” said Hannah Boudreau. “We knew what was going to happening, but we didn’t know what we were going to do.”
Though the scene was a mock crash, the reality of knowing what to say to a driver in that situation hit hard.
“You don’t know how to respond to them,” explorer Lizzy Mazurek said.
“You can’t tell them their friend died,” Boudreau added.
The deaths in the mock crash seemed to resonate with the students and that’s part of the point.
“No one should have to lose anyone,” Ashley Neurauter said.