Mock traffic crash gives Palmyra students something to remember before drinking, driving


A mock traffic crash in the parking lot at Palmyra High School featured two heavily damaged vehicles that appeared to have crashed head-on, with several students in each car portraying injured passengers and one fatality. | Megan Duncan

PALMYRA, Mo. — Palmyra High School Students watched as police officers held back a devastated mom screaming for her son, lying on top of a mangled car.

The students had just walked up to a very real looking scene in the school parking lot of a mock drunk-driving accident, done in collaboration with local emergency services. The simulation gave students a jolting look at what could happen if they get into the driver’s seat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Students were unaware the event was happening until they saw it.

Two heavily damaged vehicles, brought in by Lackey Auto Salvage, appeared to have crashed head-on, with several students in each car portraying injured passengers and one fatality.

The call went out to local emergency services, just like a real call. With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the Palmyra Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Marion County Ambulance and Palmyra Fire District arrived on the scene. 

The drunk driver was handcuffed and arrested after taking a sobriety test. Two panicked passengers with minor injuries sat to the side of the scene while a parent consoled them. Another passenger was placed in a body bag with his devastated mother crying in the background.  

Moments later, a helicopter landed on the field beside the school. 

A passenger, secured into a gurney, was placed into the Hannibal Regional Hospital Survival Flight chopper by emergency services. Students watched as the helicopter flew into the distance with the volunteer student on board.   

All officers and emergency responders, except for two, were off-duty and volunteering their time.

Kristen Rathbone, resource officer at Palmyra High School, coordinated the event. Rathbone is in her first year at the school and said she wanted to do something to impact students.

Eddie Bogue, chief of the Palmyra Police Department, suggested a mock drunk driving crash.

“I was an actor in a mock traffic crash when I was in high school, so I thought that would be a great idea,” she said. “I played an injured individual.” 

Rathbone said the students who participated watched videos to get an idea of how to act.

“They were really into it today and just did a great job,” she said, adding she was proud of the behavior of the students as they watched. 

She said it was a great collaboration of all the first responders who helped and everyone who took time out of their day.

“I could not have done it by myself. All the first responders and everyone just really added to it,” she said. 

Bogue said the last time Palmyra had a mock drunk driving accident was 2010. With prom and graduation coming up, he said it’s a good time for students to see what can happen by making the choice to drink and drive. 

“If we even impact even one student, then we succeeded,” Bogue said.

The scenario made an impact.

Moriah Higgason and Madison Cardwell, seniors at Palmyra High School, said the simulation gave them something to think about. Moriah said it was when the mother became upset that it really hit her. 

“That is someone’s son,” she said. 

Students gathered in the gymnasium after the simulation to hear Breahnna Parsons, a senior from Hannibal High School, speak about a car crash involving a drunk driver in which her sister’s fiance died.

Many students were wiping their eyes as they left the gymnasium to return to class. 

“It’s really important to find somebody to take you home, and if you don’t have anybody, then just call your parents,” Parsons said. “You might get grounded — I definitely would — but I would rather be grounded than dead.”

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Current Weather


Trending Stories