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Photos + Video: Port Moody students demonstrate a simple message — make smart choices on the road

Heritage Woods Secondary drama students performed a demonstration of a realistic motor vehicle incident in front of hundreds of classmates, including response efforts from police, firefighters and ambulance.

Don't drink and drive, make smart choices and get home safely — messages Tri-City teens often hear, especially when high school graduation is just around the corner.

But how many have actually witnessed a real-life motor vehicle incident that involved reckless, dangerous and ignorant driving?

Drama students at Heritage Woods Secondary demonstrated a very graphic recreated scenario at the Port Moody school this morning (June 2), and included real-time response efforts from local police, firefighters and paramedics.

The scene

In front of hundreds of classmates, three teens presented the following.

A young woman was seriously injured in a motor vehicle incident when a four-door sedan crashed into a tree head-on going west on David Avenue.

A second endured minor non-life threatening injuries, while the driver was found to be driving under the influence after a breathalyzer detected alcohol and was arrested by Port Moody police (PMPD) as a result.

To make matters worse, the vehicle had an 'N' displayed, so the driver was also in violation of the motor vehicle act by having more people than the limit of one other passenger (not a family member) allowed inside.

The three were rescued from the vehicle by first responders, who had to use the jaws of life and other tools to get the driver out.

The injured woman was stretchered to an ambulance by paramedics and was then taken to hospital for treatment.

The message

The actors definitely put on a convincing performance and were good sports with how first responders normally operate in a similar circumstance.

Classmates applauded, however, there were some audibly mocking the mock demonstration or talking amongst themselves instead.

Grade 12 student Sienna Da Silva-Rolph portrayed the driver of the vehicle, was put in real handcuffs and sat in a PMPD vehicle until the scene was over.

She hopes the majority of her Heritage Woods cohorts understood why this event was necessary.

"I'm hoping they listened and they noticed what happened today, and decide not to do what my [character] did," Da Silva-Rolph explains in an interview with the Tri-City News.

She performed alongside fellow soon-to-be graduates Olivia Lund and Bethany Truman, whose faces were covered in fake blood and bruises as if they experienced the crash in real life.

All three agreed its important to demonstrate one of the possible worse-case scenarios in a given crash for young drivers.

And with grad season almost here, Da Silva-Rolph says choosing to put friends, family and classmates in danger will not get everyone home safely.

"Make good choices. Don't do anything that can get you hurt or arrested. It's a bad idea will ruin your future and you're just graduating high school."

"I think kids nowadays are a bit desensitized to messaging. So I think making it as realistic as possible just makes more of an impact," adds Todd Clerkson, Heritage Woods Secondary principal, who helped organize the demonstration today.

"Driving is such a massive responsibility. It's really the ultimate responsibility because you're not only endangering yourselves, but your passengers [and] other people on the street. So they really need to just think before they do [...] and also passengers need to think about who they're getting into cars with and make sure that they're travelling with responsible people."

The consequences

According to ICBC, there were nearly 300 motor vehicle crashes recorded in Port Moody in 2020 — the latest year for stats available.

The corporation adds the current five-year average is 95 deaths from fatal collisions across the Lower Mainland.

Port Moody firefighter Jeff Scallion believes there's "no excuse" for anyone to drink and drive, or drive recklessly behind the wheel.

He tells the Tri-City News he knows the emotional impacts through personal experience. 

"I graduated in Coquitlam, and one of my peers in grade 10 was killed by an impaired driver. One of his best buddies was the driver," explains Scallion.

"So it's awful for all the families involved. To lose a son and a sibling is horrible. And the family of the driver, I mean, they lost their son to prison."

Scallion adds, with several ride-sharing options available, there are many ways someone can get home safely.