Pattonville High School juniors and seniors looked onto a car accident on the school’s lot Thursday morning as firefighters and police attempted to secure and clear the scene. But the accident was all for show.
The school, Pattonville Fire District, SSM-Depaul Health Center and Maryland Heights Police Department organized a “docudrama” for students as a part of Operation Safe Prom. Pattonville’s prom will be held Friday night at Westport Sheraton.
“We want you to have a safe prom,” Pattonville physical education teacher and docudrama coordinator Rich Beckmann announced to students prior to the start of the event. “You have to make responsible decisions on a night that should be exciting and filled with many memories.”
Operation Safe Prom has been done for several years in the district, Beckmann said, and has been a way to put a reminder in students’ heads.
No students have been involved in an accident or had problems on prom night in recent years, Pattonville District spokeswoman Mickey Schoonover said.
Hundreds of students stood on the parking lot as firefighters and police worked to help two of four Pattonville students involved in the drama’s accident. One student was pronounced dead, while another was arrested for drunk driving.
Students watched as firefighters carried the other two students out on stretchers to ambulances.
“This is what we want you to think about,” Beckmann told students as the scene was cleared. “This is a J4; this is a fatality accident now.”
Following the demonstration, the students assembled in the school’s auditorium for presentations by the police, firefighters and Beckmann portraying the parental perspective.
Beckmann said the main thing is to be sure that students are safe.
“We try to make this as realistic as possible,” he said. “We hope this helps prevent [accidents].”
Aaron Landgraf, a senior at Pattonville and drama student, performed as the driver who caused the accident in the docudrama. He said he would be attending the prom Friday night and definitely not drinking.
“I learned it’s not only about yourself,” Landgraf said. “Realizing it could happen to a friend or someone I know is terrifying. If I had a doubt before today, this was the answer.”