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Police deliver drinking/driving message to teens

By Dan Boyd
Idaho State Journal

ARIMO – Lights flashed, sirens blared and a helicopter touched down on the blocked-off roadway. Through it all, Marsh Valley High School students watched intently.

Two students were led away in handcuffs. One was airlifted to Portneuf Medical Center. Another was pronounced dead at the scene.

This week’s event was part of a re-enactment staged by the Bannock County Sheriff's Department to show students the realities of drunken driving incidents.

Although it was only a demonstration, the sight of demolished cars, medical personnel and law enforcement officers struck many students.

"It can really happen," said Kaylena Michaelson, a Marsh Valley junior. "A lot of people knew already, but this made it more real."

Perhaps one reason why Marsh Valley students might already know about the dangers of drunken driving is a recent incident regarding one of their own.

On Nov. 8, 2003, Tyson Bullock, 17, was killed in a one-car accident when the car he was riding in veered off Portneuf Road.

MVHS teacher Scott Robinson said tragedies of this type affect students, but that their lessons are sometimes forgotten.

"I think it has been a real eye-opener for the kids," Robinson said. "At that age things don't stick for very long."

Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said he usually receives at least one or two calls a year regarding drunken driving fatalities.

"This is the time of year, as the weather starts getting better and party season starts, that we really worry about," Nielsen said.

Drunken driving accidents change the lives of everyone involved, including their families, he said.

Nielsen said the re-enactments, which involve real professionals from various work sectors, are done as authentically as possible to show students what a DUI scene actually looks like.

"We're trying to make it as realistic as we can," Nielsen said.

From ripping off a car's roof, to removing two "victims" on backboards to the arrival of a hearse, the demonstration certainly looked real.

Marsh Valley students were randomly selected to take part in the re-enactment, both as victims and perpetrators of the simulated accident.

Robinson said that for students, seeing their peers in handcuffs and ambulances, even if wasn't real, provided a wake-up call.

"We had several students come into class who were earmarked as dead," Robinson said. "Class was somewhat more subdued after that."

Nielsen said Tuesday's reenactment was the third time an event of this type was staged. The previous two dramatizations were in Pocatello at Highland High School and Century High School.

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