Docudrama presented for Purdy High School

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
As firefighters worked to removed victims from the vehicle at right, ambulance teams carried victims extricated from the car at left while students watched at rear. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

Emphasis focuses on distracted driving, aftermath of fatality crash

The Purdy school district hosted a docudrama for high school students on April 18 to stress the dangers of distracted driving.

School officials staged a two-vehicle crash on the east side of Gabby Gibbons Drive to illustrate for students how a momentary distraction while driving can have devastating consequences. The staged collision had a Kia mini van hit broadside by a Honda car.

As the Purdy docudrama began, people frantically converged on the scene. Parent Holly Hughlett, left, stood next to her son, James Hughlett, hanging out of the car, while parent Micha Propps, center, urged Police Chief Jackie Lowe to respond to her son, Kyler, inside the vehicle. Both parents responded with appropriate screaming. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

Prior to viewing the crash site, students from the Future Business Leaders of America chapter went to each classroom and read the following statement:

“What you are about to see is not real. In a few minutes you will view a wreck. Not just any wreck but a wreck involving distracted driving and your peers.

“Hannah White, Rion Boyd and James Hughlett left in Hannah’s car to go to the Corner so they could get some food for lunch. They are having a fun time and Snapchatting and posting pics on their Snap stories as they are driving. Johan Rodriguez has forgotten his cleats he needs for tonight’s baseball game and has called home. His parents can’t bring them to him but said someone could run him home. So Mica asked her son, Kyler Propps to take him home to get them. Kyler and Johan are pulling out of the parking lot when Hannah, Rion and James are returning back to school. Because Hannah is not paying attention to the road she is not in her lane and she doesn’t notice Kyler coming and hits his car. You will see the result of this accident.”

Students who had a personal experience that made viewing the crash unpleasant were given the option of not participating. A sign was posted at the crash site warning students about the use of Snapchat. School spokesperson Susan Funkhouser observed that while docudramas have in the past focused on drunk driving, students may relate more readily to the present dangers of distracted driving.

Kyler Propps and Johan Rodriguez were in the Honda. Hannah White, Rion Boyd and James Hughlett were in the van. They remained motionless while classmates filed by. Injuries were simulated by makeup applied by moulage artists Tom Emery, from Cox trauma services, and Shelly Elsey, from Cox Air Care.

When the simulation began, Propps, who works at the school, came running screaming onto the scene and yelled for someone to call 911. Holly Hughlett, mother of James Hughlett also arrived in an increasing panic. Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe was the first to arrive on the scene, followed by two fire trucks of first responders in bunker gear. The firefighters broke out the extrication equipment and worked to remove the victims in the Honda. Ambulances from Barry-Lawrence and Cox also arrived to removed victims.

Students, who may have been inclined to joke about the presentation, watched with interest as the first responders set about their business. When Bo Prock, working as a firefighter, called out, “Has anyone called the coroner?” the crowd was rather still.

James Hughlett was declared the casualty in the crash. Chief Lowe attempted to comfort the mother as her son remained in the wreck, awaiting the coroner, while others were removed to where the helicopter would potentially land.

An assembly followed the docudrama. Jim Lawrence and Elsey, from Cox Air Care, talked the students about other crashes they have seen and how to prevent becoming part of one.

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