Klamath Falls, Ore. – Over 800 Klamath County high school students got a shocking look at the dangers of drunk driving, and distracted driving Thursday.
‘Operation prom night’ shows the devastating aftermath of a drunk driving crash through a realistic simulation.
“What you’re going to see is drivers and passengers who are either in prom dresses, or tuxedos,” explained Matt Hitchcock of Klamath County Fire District #1. “You’re going to see a little bit of trauma, and you’re going to see a whole lot of emotion.”
While the accident is simulated, the emotions are real.
“It’s really emotional,” said student Breanna Mestas. “And very scary.”
“It’s something that could happen,” explianed student Eduardo Gonzales. “And it’s our friends, watching them – and that’s just one more person gone in your life that could have been something big to you.”
Several of the people in the simulated accident are seriously injured.
Four people are killed.
Operation prom night also triggers emotions in emergency crews who have responded to the real thing.
“You start thinking, could this be a family member of my own?” Matt Hitchcock said. “Could this be somebody that I know, maybe a friend or relative?”
Student Ethan Shulmire said the message behind operation prom night is simple. “Not to drink and drive, that’s for sure – or get behind the wheel with somebody that’s impaired.”
Organizers believe that if they can prevent just one accident, it will all be worthwhile.
Klamath County hosted their first ‘Operation prom night’ in 2010.
The concept is now being shared at other schools across the state.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.