First responders rescue a victim during a mock accident at West Forest High School on April 26, 2024. Photo courtesy PennDOT.

Mock Accident, Safety Day Held for Forest Area Students

April 28, 2024

TIONESTA, Pa. – PennDOT, the Forest County Sheriff’s Office, and the Forest County Probation Office teamed up with various community safety partners Friday, April 26 to conduct a simulated crash scenario for high school students.

Forest Area Safety Day was held at West Forest Junior-Senior High School and aimed to educate the district’s students in grades 7-12 from both East and West Forest high schools about the dangers of reckless, distracted, and impaired driving.

PennDOT and Forest and Warren County agencies staged a mock accident at West Forest High School on April 26, 2024. Photo courtesy PennDOT.

The day began with the Tionesta Ambulance Service placing four students in pre-positioned cars to simulate a head-on collision. A script provided by the ambulance service, Pennsylvania State Police, and Forest County Sheriff’s Office was read to the audience detailing the steps first responders took during the mock crash.

As the scenario played out, one of the three passengers was placed into a LifeFlight helicopter to demonstrate steps that would be taken for treating life-threatening injuries suffered during a crash. Another passenger was transported by ambulance, while the third pretended to be deceased after being examined by the Forest County Coroner.

A “drunk driver” is arrested during a mock accident at West Forest High School on April 26, 2024. Photo courtesy PennDOT.

The driver in the simulation was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

“We hear a lot from young drivers that they don’t think they will ever be involved in a crash, but this visual presentation of a tragic outcome that families experience far too often really puts things into perspective for them,” said Mark Rhoads, Chief Probation Officer for Forest County. “It really comes down to teaching these teens that it is crucial to make smart decisions every time you get into a vehicle, whether they’re behind the wheel or a passenger.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. About eight teens ages 13-19 die every day from motor vehicle crash injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2022, there were 6,162 crashes in Pennsylvania involving a 16-year-old or 17-year-old driver, according to PennDOT data.

“Inexperienced drivers are managing a lot of new skills each time they get behind the wheel,” said Austin Soboleski, a Community Traffic Safety Project Coordinator with the Highway Safety Network. “We hope this event reminds them to take that responsibility seriously, give driving your full attention, never drive impaired, and always wear your seat belt.

In addition to the mock crash, the students used an impaired and distracted driving simulator, heard from motivational speakers, and talked with traffic safety experts.

Other agencies contributing to the event included West Hickory Fire Company, Tionesta Fire Company, the PA DUI Association, Highway Safety Network, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County 911 Center, Forest County District Attorney’s Office, and Shambaugh Towing.

“It’s great to have this level of support within the community so we can collectively demonstrate to the students that we are dedicated to helping them stay safe out on the roads,” Rhoads said.

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