Cedartown High School students received a stark reminder about the dangers of drinking and driving Friday, one day before the school’s prom night.
Drama students, with the assistance of local law enforcement and emergency response agencies, presented Ghost Out in a school parking lot to members of the junior and senior classes.
Seniors Markecia Pace, Shanice Cliatt, Sheldon Foster, Tyler Rice and Melena McCown played the roles of prom night students and another motorist involved in a fatal head-on collision.
“It’s an effort to drive home the fact that they don’t need to be drinking and driving,” explained Redmond EMS official Marty Robinson, who helped plan the presentation. “Car accidents are still the leading cause of death for ages 15-20.”
Pace played the role of the crash fatality. Once students were gathered in the parking lot for the presentation, sheets were removed from two wrecked vehicles, positioned as though at the scene of an accident. Students could then see Pace, lying motionless on the vehicle’s hood with (fake) blood dripping down the sheet metal.
As students took in the scene, an announcer explained that Pace had not been wearing her seat belt and was thrown through the windshield of the vehicle.
As the presentation continued, Tyler Rice climbed out through the driver’s side window of the car. Stumbling and dazed, the announcer explained that he had sustained injuries but survived due to his seat belt. Students also learned that the collision was his fault, due to drinking alcohol.
Also making an appearance around this time was a student dressed as The Grim Reaper.
As Rice checked on his friend, Pace, and then on the other vehicle, students were informed that McCown, the driver of the other vehicle, had sustained life-threatening injuries that would leave her permanently disabled.
As the drama continued, Foster exited the rear of Rice’s vehicle. Cliatt, however, was too injured to move. About that time, police vehicles and Cedartown Fire Department vehicles arrived on the scene, along with ambulances from Redmond Medical Center.
Shortly thereafter, an emergency evacuation helicopter arrived from Atlanta, landed in the parking lot and picked up a wreck “victim” for air transport.
Last to arrive was a hearse from Gammage Funeral Home arrived to remove Pace from the scene. As she was loaded up into a hearse, her voice, recorded previously, came over a loud speaker with her last words:
“Hey, don’t put that sheet over my head!” the message said. “I’m only 17. I can’t be dead!”
The drama was presented around 10 a.m. But the message continued to be reiterated throughout the day in classrooms through the surprise visit of The Grim Reaper. One by one, students were pulled out of class, made up as “ghosts” with white face makeup and returned to class.
Once serving in the role of ghosts, the students were not supposed to talk to other students.
The point, organizers said, was to reiterate the annual death toll of traffic accidents, the dangers of drinking and driving, and the fact that friends killed in this fashion are forever gone.