After graduation, senior Stephanie Vonarx plans on being a lifeguard this summer before heading off to the University of Central Missouri in the fall. She may have gotten a headstart on the lifeguard thing a little early Thursday.
Vonarx had a starring role in a tragedy nobody wants repeated in real life, as she played the part of a girl who died in a drunk driving accident on prom night.
Pattonville annually stages a mock accident with cooperation from Maryland Heights Police, the Pattonville Fire Protection District and SSM DePaul Health Center as a way to show the very real consequences of what can happen when alcohol impairs your ability to drive.
For photos from the Mock Drill, go to our Facebook page. Please note that these pictures may be graphic for effect.
The junior and senior classes saw the first responders arrive on scene and use the "jaws of life" to free trapped people inside. They saw a classmate playing the part of a drunk driver who gets cuffed and put inside a patrol car. They saw Vonarx placed in a body bag.
"It's a really good way to get the point across," Vonarx said, adding that she saw the drill her freshman year at Incarnate Word.
The scene shifted to the school auditorium, where the teens saw and heard more examples of what can happen in a drunk driving accident, only this wasn't fiction.
Andrew Karanas, MD, the Trauma Director at SSM DePaul showed pictures of crash victims who had head injuries beyond recognition. "No neurosurgeon can fix this. I can't fix this," he said. "You die right there."
Maryland Heights Police Officer Mike Mooney spoke from the heart about how drunk driving cases have impacted him personally. His daughter is a student at in Creve Coeur, which saw the death of a teacher, Janet Esrock. . Mooney called Esrock "one of the finest people I've ever met."
In 25 years on the job, Mooney still recalls the death of former Pattonville student Greg Smith, in a 1997 drunk driving accident. Smith was a passenger. "I've never gotten over it," Mooney said.
"It's not always you in control," Vonarx said after her starring role Thursday. "You have to be cautious about that."