‘Tragedy on Gliniewicz’: AHS seniors get first-person view of dangers of impaired driving

Abington High School’s senior class watched as one of their classmates laid motionless on the pavement covered with a white sheet, while fireighters cut apart a smashed vehicle trying to free another. A few steps away, a bleeding classmate collapsed on the ground and had to be raced away in an ambulance. A fourth classmate failed a field sobriety test, was handcuffed by police, and stuffed into a police cruiser. Watching it all unfold was a group of crying friends and the distraught mother of one of the victims.

Thankfully none of it was real. It was just a harsh and graphic, but accurate, portrayal of how bad decisions can lead to tragedy, especially around prom and graduation season.  

The event was coordinated by Abington COPES, assisted by Abington High School Assistant Principal Kate Casey, Abington Fire, Abington Police, Abington Community Access & Media, and even a local funeral home.

Abington COPES Chairwoman Melissa Cook said other local high schools have staged accident dramatizations and she thought it would be impactful for Abington’s senior class.

“We hope that they will make better choices around substances,” said Cook.

The event started with seniors watching a 5-minute clip of a high school party, where teens drank and tried edibles. Two groups then got into vehicles and drove off. The senior class then walked out to Gliniewicz Way where an SUV with heavy damage to the front-end was staged up against a tree.

One passenger lay motionless on the hood of the vehicle. Another passenger sat “unconscious ” trapped inside the vehicle. Friends argued outside the wreck about who was at fault.

Two Abington cruisers soon showed up followed by Abington firefighters, who executed their standard emergency response gameplan. While police interviewed witnesses, firefighters used power saws to cut off the top of the vehicle. 

Seniors watched the scene unfold quietly, as the “victim’s mother” showed up to the scene and tried to push past officers to get to her “son.” The medical examiner was called to the scene, pronounced the victim dead, and took his body away in a hearse.

In total, the mock crash killed one senior, sent two others to the hospital with significant injuries, and sent the driver to jail.

Back inside the High School Auditorium, seniors and school leaders talked about what they just witnessed.  Principal Jonathan Bourne said the goal wasn’t to scare them but inform them about what can happen. He said it was a symbol of how much the community cares about their well-being.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens; about a quarter of fatal crashes involve an underage driver who has been drinking.

The seniors who took part in the video and reenactment were: Rylee Deminico, Taylor Chancholo, Ryan Libby, Darrin Zenus, Joseph Hajjar, Trenton Patterson, Amy Long, and Logan Duquette. Abington High School teacher Shannon Duquette played the distraught mother.

It’s the first time Abington has staged a mock accident scene. At times in previous years, the school has placed a car wreck on the high school lawn as a visual reminder of the dangers of driving.

The reenactment was recorded by Abington CAM and will be edited into a short video for future viewing.

Actors react to the “fatal single- car crash” on Gliniewicz Way Wednesday
Abington Police aid victims of Wednesday’s mock accident
Abington firefighters try to free an accident victim from the vehicle
Abington High seniors watch the tragedy unfold.
Abington firefighters used tools to cut the roof off the vehicle to extricate a trapped passenger.
Distraught accident witnesses, and the mother of one of the victims, watch the rescue.
Abington High seniors watch as firefighters free an injured victim trapped in the vehicle
Abington firefighters load an injured passenger onto a stretcher
Abington police give the “driver” a field sobriety test.
The “driver” of the vehicle takes a field sobriety test
Abington police “arrest” the driver after failing the field sobriety test
The “mother” of the passenger killed in the mock crash tries to push past Abington police to get to the scene
Abington firefighters tend to one of the injured passengers after he “collapsed” following the accident.
Abington firefighters try to rescue a passenger injured in the mock accident.
The “medical examiner” loads the body of a passenger killed in the mock accident into a hearse.
Friends of the victims console each other.

Actors and school leaders talk to seniors following the conclusion of the scene.

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