By Elizabeth Sias
A day before juniors and seniors will dress up in colorful dresses and stylish tuxedos for prom, the students witnessed a mock crash right outside the front doors of Braham Area High School.
In a realistic display on Friday, April 13, one car had smashed into another, both totaled. Jacob Rajkowski flew headfirst through the windshield, landing flat on his stomach of the hood of the car, covered in blood.
“With the upcoming prom and with the number of students who are out late and having a good time, we want everyone to be safe as they go into the weekend,” High School Principal Justin Sawyer said. “Our hope is that we’re able to impact their decisions that they make over the next few days and the next few months, and then as they continue into adulthood.”
During the mock crash, a police officer handcuffed the driver of one of the vehicles, Drew Klemz, and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Meanwhile, Sam Stigen was taken away in an ambulance and Austyn Eng, with life-threatening injuries, flew via North Memorial helicopter to the ER. Students Mariah Banks and Briana Richmond also participated in the mock crash.
Afterward, students all gathered in the gymnasium to hear comments from those on scene. Many participated in the mock crash, including the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department, Safety and Rescue workers, Braham Police Department, Braham Fire Department, State Patrol, Allina Emergency Medical Services and North Memorial.
“What you saw today is very, very real,” State Patrol Trooper Scott Fredell said. “That’s what it looks like out on the road for us.”
When a student asked about the consequences of drunk driving, Sergeant Chris Caulk of the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department said the first DUI for someone under 21 is a misdemeanor with up to 90 days in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. The fine for underage consumption of alcohol is a minimum of $300.
Ross Benzen with the Braham Fire Department warned students not only of drunk driving, but also of texting while driving, which is also illegal. He advised students to call 911 if they see a drunk driver or suspect one of their classmates of driving under the influence.
“This is not to scare you,” he said. “This is to tell you that things happen. Bad things happens. And we want to be able to show you what happens when people are drinking and driving, when they’re texting and driving, and when they’re just not paying attention. Things could happen, and they could happen to you. They could happen to any of us.”