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As the sound of sirens faded away and the glass was cleaned up, the girl's body was laid on a board on the pavement and covered with a white sheet.

Charles County Emergency Medical Services personnel checked her for vital signs once more. They then lifted the board she lay on and carried her around in front of the crowd of junior and senior high school students.

For the EMS personnel and police officers, it was like any other accident they respond to.

For the students involved in the accident, it was just a taste of what can happen if you decide to drink and drive or text and drive.

“We're hoping that positive visual impact makes a difference,” Capt. Guy Yesse of EMS 12 at the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department said of the mock car accident staged in front of Westlake High School on April 11.

“Every 15 Minutes” is a national program held at high schools across the country in which local police and firefighters work with school officials to teach high school students the dangers of driving while intoxicated or texting.

Yesse and his wife brought the idea of participating in “Every 15 Minutes” to Thomas Stone High School last year.

For this year's staged scene, volunteer firefighters, police officers and school officials met a few nights before the scheduled date to discuss the plan.

Yesse said he told the assembled team that he would not share the plan of how the scene would play out at Westlake because if it were a real accident, they would not know the details beforehand.

Called upon to assist at the mock scene were 12 EMS personnel, 15 firefighters, five police officers and three school leadership team members.

The scene consisted of a green Ford containing an intoxicated teen driver and passenger, and a silver Chrysler containing three teen girls. The Chrysler's driver was unconscious when help arrived on the scene. Her backseat passenger yelled for help, and the front-seat passenger, Bailey Delacruz, had been propelled through the windshield. Glass was embedded in her forehead, and she “died” at the scene.

“It's really scary,” Westlake senior Sabrina Allen, who played the unconscious driver, said before the mock accident took place.

Allen, 17, said she cried when she saw the makeup resembling blood on her face. She has never been in a real car accident and said that she thought the mock accident would teach her not to drink and drive or text and drive.

“When you're driving, just drive. Don't text and drive,” Allen said.

Westlake senior Gabrielle Sherrod, 18, played Sabrina's backseat passenger. Sherrod said she was in a real car accident more than a year ago, but no one was injured.

“It's scary,” Sherrod said of the mock accident. “I'm really, really nervous. It's kind of real.” She said she thought the mock accident would teach her to be more aware of what other drivers are doing and to be more careful.

According to Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond, “Every 15 Minutes” is “a lot of hard work” for the sheriff's office and Waldorf VFD.

“I know this is a lot of work, but I wish they could do this for every high school, every year,” Richmond said.

“I used to tell [students]: 'You don't want to be out partying and come to the prom,” said Richmond, who has been superintendent since 1996. “The idea is you want kids safe. [Prom is] a great evening for kids.” Richmond added that prom night is an evening high school students will remember for the rest of their lives.

Charles County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson said that during the 2007-08 school year, nine fatal car crashes involving teens occurred. Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) took action to prevent further tragic statistics by appointing a task force and reaching out to local government and school officials.

The Teen Safe Driving Task Force was created in 2008, and since then, only one teen from Charles County's six high schools has died in a car accident.

“I think [“Every 15 Minutes” is] excellent at opening up the children's eyes,” Coffey said.

He added that a car accident is something children will see on the side of the road, but “Every 15 Minutes” shows them from beginning to end what drunk driving can cause.

“[Driving is] the single most dangerous thing each of us do each day,” Coffey said.

Amber Jordan was the driver of the Ford. She was given a sobriety test at the accident scene, then arrested and taken to the police station for processing.

She said she had to remove her shoes at the police station because they were evidence, and mug shots were taken.

She also was put into a jail cell and locked up.

“I've learned not to get arrested,” Jordan said.

She added that she will think twice about drinking and driving or texting and driving.

“It's not right. It's not fair,” Jordan said of car accidents like the mock accident. “It shouldn't happen at all.”

For the rest of the day, Jordan was considered part of “the living dead,” students who were prohibited from speaking to their classmates, teachers, friends or family because they had died in an alcohol-related traffic accident.

Every 15 minutes from 7:45 a.m. until last bell, a predetermined student was pulled from class. The student's obituary, written beforehand by her parents, was read to the class by school resource officer Paul Anderson.

Senior Marisa Booth, 17, was one of the students pulled from class, made up to look dead, given a black “Every 15 Minutes” T-shirt and sent back to class.

“I thought it was a really good cause,” Booth said about why she volunteered to be “the living dead.”

Students pulled from class, as well as the accident participants, were sent to Lions Camp Merrick that night to spend the night away from family and friends, and they wrote letters to their loved ones as if they had died.

Each student pulled from class also had a fake tombstone displayed outside the school.

In a mock trial held after school April 11, Jordan was “sentenced” as the driver responsible for the accident.

“Part of it is a reminder to remind them all day long of what they saw,” said Katie O'Malley-Simpson, public schools spokewoman.

rbarnabi@somdnews.com