A Kansas University senior whose mother was killed in an alcohol-related car accident in 1988 knows first-hand the dangers of drinking and driving.
Joel Karman, a Chicago senior, said his mother died when a drunken driver struck her car four years ago. Karman joined several hundred students who watched a mock accident Tuesday afternoon on the front lawn of Stauffer-Flint Hall as part of Safe Break Week.
"It's good for everyone to see this," Karman said.
Designed to illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving, the accident involved two authentically wrecked cars donated by Lewis Auto Salvage, 2005 E. 19th. The cars were positioned in front of the William Allen While School of Journalism and Mass Communications as if they had just wrecked.
The first officers to arrive at the accident, staged about 12:20 p.m., were from the KU police department. They quickly checked for injuries. A dummy lying on the grass represented a fatality from the accident. The dummy had not been wearing his seat belt.
T.J. McDonnell, an Arlington Heights, Ill., junior, was "arrested" by KU police for causing the accident by running a red light. McDonnell failed several sobriety tests. He couldn't touch his nose with his fingers or successfully walk heel-to-toe.
KARMAN said the man who was responsible for his mother's death also was arrested but was released from jail within six months because it was his first offense.
After police assessed the accident, paramedics from Douglas County Ambulance Service arrived on the scene and administered aid to a passenger in McDonnell's car and to Lawrence Fire Chief Jim McSwain, who portrayed the innocent driver of the car McDonnell hit. Lawrence firefighters used the "Jaws of Life," a $12,000 piece of hydraulic equipment that enables rescuers to bend and cut metal and move heavy objects. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pull the driver's side door and roof off the car McSwain was driving.
Throughout the mock accident, Chet Hayes, a KU extension course instructor, gave students figures about alcohol-related accidents.
"EVERY 22 minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related accident," Hayes said. "Most of us drive daily with the attitude that this won't happen to us."
Hayes' message to the students who watched the accident was to have fun but be safe during spring break, which starts Friday when classes are dismissed at KU.
"We want you to return to KU on March 16 safe and healthy," Hayes said.