By NEIL ZAWICKI

On Tuesday, Milton High school juniors and seniors witnessed a realistic fatal car crash simulation on campus. 

The presentation, a bi-annual effort by law enforcement and emergency response personnel, seeks to educate students on the dangers of impaired driving ahead of prom week. 

The simulation was brutally honest. 

It presented all the realities of a crash scene involving a drunk driver and a death, from the extraction of the body to the anguish of survivors, to the procedures police, fire, and medical examiners follow.

“Often, students end up in tears,” said Lee Gaboriault, a Milton Fire Department Lieutenant and co-organizer of the event, prior to Tuesday’s simulation. “We want it to be impactful. This is a very real thing.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 29 people die each day in the United States in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s one death every 50 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.

Milton High theater students Alana Bigos, Skyler Austin, Jordan Abere, Colby Allard, and Jeremy Hardy played the roles of the walking wounded, the dead, and the offending driver. 

The offending driver was one of the survivors, a cruel irony that Gaboriault said is a factor at essentially every drunk driver fatality.

“The drunk or impaired driver is always more relaxed and so is able to absorb the impact of the crash and come out basically unharmed,” he said. 

When the theater students rehearsed on Friday afternoon, the mood was light, as the students ran through their scene, just like they do with any other production. 

Bigos, who played the drunk driver, said of the scene and of her role, “It’s really cool, as someone who has been an actor for a while to use that skill for a good cause.”

After the event, Bigos had a different perspective. In fact, she said she began to cry during her performance.

“Oh my God, it was so different from rehearsal,” she said. “I was thinking I didn’t even need to rehearse. What did it for me was when I asked if Gabri (Hurst, playing the dead victim) was okay, and Officer Raymond shook her head ‘no.’ That’s when I really felt like I’d just killed someone.”

Milton School Resource Officer Kendra Raymond said what the students witnessed was a very real and difficult part of police work. “This is part of a police officer’s job that is not glamorous,” she said.