Distracted driving drill

Marlo Pronovost

SCN photos by Marlo Pronovost

A dead teenage girl.

A boy led away in handcuffs.

Another teen loaded onto a gurney to await HelpFlight.

All from making the poor choice of drinking and driving.

Fortunately, the teens involved were playing roles as part of a distracted driving scenario conducted Tuesday afternoon near the Columbus High School football field. Columbus police, Montana Highway Patrol, the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, Disaster and Emergency Services, the coroner, Stillwater Billings Clinic and HelpFlight joined in to show kids what can happen when alcohol — and other kinds of distracted driving — enter the picture.

Dozens of students pressed up against the infield fence to watch first responders in action as they worked a mock accident scene with injuries and one fatality.

A police officer was first on scene, checking the pulse of what he quickly determined was a deceased girl who had been ejected from one of two cars involved. The driver was drunk and in short order, a MHP trooper was on scene conducting field sobriety tests. Meanwhile, Columbus Fire Rescue rushed to the scene to transport an injured teen to a hospital and the coroner’s van arrived for the fatality victim.

The HelpFlight helicopter appeared overhead, landing on the football field to get the most seriously injured teen. Columbus Police Chief Jacob Ward narrated the scenario for the students as it unfolded.

At the conclusion, Carol Hanson spoke of the day she lost her 15-year-old daughter to “distracted driving” on Highway 10.

Hanson said she watched her daughter drive away, not realizing it would be the last time she saw her alive.