2017-04-19 / Front Page

Ghost Out held to promote prom safety

By Diana Royal

BCHS students participated in a mock car crash to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. BCHS students participated in a mock car crash to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. The scene was bloody. Crushed glass and bent metal barely concealed the four, young teenagers, three stuck inside and one ejected from the wreckage.

The story unfolded over the loud speaker as Burke County High School students watched paramedics try to save their fellow classmates.

Sara Katherine Mitchell was just excited about her senior prom, the story told. She picked up her friends Edward Lambert, Bill Knight and Yauna Godbee for a fun adventure. A few beers mixed with texting and driving fast, and the four teens’ lives changed forever.

School officials are hoping that the ghost-out held last Friday will change lives, too, but in a positive way.

Cathy McAffee, Parent Coordinator for BCHS and liaison to the community, said their hope was to bring awareness to students on the dangers and severe consequences from not just drinking and driving but texting and driving.

“For the most part, the event was well accepted,” McAffee said, adding that one student’s reaction to the rollover simulator let her know they were paying attention. “He said, ‘Man, I’ll be sure to buckle up from now on.’”

The ghost-out not only had the mock car crash, but several different simulators were provided by various traffic enforcement networks. McAffee said students participated in hands-on activities including the seatbelt convincer simulator and destructive driving courses and inebriation station (bean bag toss) all while wearing drunk goggles.

“The men operating the simulators gave personal stories of losing children to wrecks,” McAffee said, adding that two other speakers really seemed to reach the students. “Judge Doug Flanigan told stories of accidents in our area and young people taking the lives of small children by texting and driving, and Brian Mixon (of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety) shared a personal story of when he thought he had lost his daughter because of a distracted driver.”

During the mock car crash, students listened as Edward became unresponsive and died. His body was loaded into a hearse and students later attended his pretend funeral. Sara Katherine then appeared on stage in an orange jump suit, where her mock trial was displayed before fellow classmates.

“I felt disturbed when I saw the wreckage on the field,” Ivey Jones, a sophomore at BCHS said following the event. “You hear the constant reminders to be cautious while driving and the pictures shown in driver’s ed are sad but nothing compared to seeing people I know and walk the halls with lying ‘unconscious’ and ‘dead’ in this mangled car. The ghost-out was humbling because you think you’re invincible until you see how easily it could have been a friend or even yourself.”

The grim reaper was also present throughout the day, painting students’ faces white to represent the alarming number of teens who die as a result of car crashes each week (which is approximately 105).

Following the program, many students signed pledges to not drink and drive or text and drive.

In addition to McAffee and BCHS principal Kavious Preston, the ghost-out was sponsored by the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County EMA, Burke County BOE and Gold Cross EMS.

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