Sheila Raghavendran

There’s nothing ‘mock’ about the impact of Mock Crash

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I feel like all my experiences in theatre thus far were leading up to Mock Crash: the opportunity to inform the school about the devastating consequences of drinking and driving and urging everyone to think first and drive safely.

The Chronicle and MBC teamed up to put together this fantastic coverage of Mock Crash on thecspn.com.

As an actor in the demonstration, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never been in that kind of situation, never lost someone close in a car accident. I made the 911 call in the simulation and we prerecorded it a week before.

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like pretending that your friends just got into a car crash, that one of them was drinking and driving, and that one of them is most likely dead. We hit record and I put myself in the moment as best as I could, trying to represent this horrible tragedy that has affected so many people in a respectful, honest manner.

I walked away from the recording last week emotionally distraught. I had just painted an image in my head of four of my close friends essentially dying, and it was an image that wasn’t far from Friday’s demonstration. I got in the car to drive home and felt like clicking the seat belt buckle was more than just a habit, checking the mirrors was more than just a precaution — they were keeping me alive. Even the short drive from the school to my home (a sly six minutes on a good day) isn’t anything to take advantage of. Mr. Rice said in Gina Deaton and Abbey Marshall’s aforementioned article on thecspn.com, he knew two students who were killed in a car accident one mile away from the school. I hope the depth and impact of yesterday’s simulation hit home for everyone watching, during prom weekend and beyond.

A photo of the scene yesterday during Mock Crash. People hold up the tarps to cover the cars until the time to reveal.

A photo of the scene yesterday during Mock Crash. People hold up the tarps to cover the cars until the time to reveal.


Annie Jones and I stand by as Leah Hall is put into a funeral home vehicle during Mock Crash.

Annie Jones and I stand by as Leah Hall is put into a funeral home vehicle during Mock Crash.

Some people asked us if we had rehearsed Mock Crash before yesterday’s presentation to the school. We did not, because you can’t practice that kind of tangible emotion. You can’t anticipate anything.

When the crash sound played and the tarp was removed, I couldn’t anticipate the deep-throttle, bloody-murder scream that escaped me and Annie Jones and continued for several minutes. I couldn’t expect what it would emotionally feel like to shout and yell and scream at a friend who was responsible for the entire incident, all while tears become uncontrollable and breathing gets heavy.

Annie Jones and I watching during Mock Crash as emergency responders work to save our friends.

Annie Jones and I watch during Mock Crash as emergency responders work to save our friends.

I feel like there is no such thing as fake crying — crying has never been something I could pretend to do. In the moments last week prerecording the 911 call and yesterday seeing my friends battered up, there was no acting. There was only real, honest understanding that serious and fatal car accidents happen — too frequently — and people I know, people from my school, people who are my friends could be victims. That’s the takeaway from yesterday’s Mock Crash.

Ryley Arnold, playing the role of the drunk driver in the car crash simulation, screams over actress Leah Hall's unmoving body.

Ryley Arnold, playing the role of the drunk driver in the car crash simulation, screams over actress Leah Hall’s unmoving body.

Hearing from Miss Laura was incredibly moving. While the 6 of us could only imagine what it’s like to have first-hand experience with a car accident, she was able to tell us her story, to urge us to be safe on the road because she can spell out the consequences in her own household.


Driving home yesterday, I saw the aftermaths of two minor fender benders in which no one appeared hurt. It was jarring to have experienced the emotional intensity of Mock Crash in the morning and then to see reckless driving, though minor, in a whole new light.

So please, to anyone reading this and anyone who watched Mock Crash yesterday, please be safe on the road — tonight and prom, and on any other ordinary day.

Photos by Gina Deaton and Abbey Marshall for thecspn.com.

Author: sheilaraghavendran

I agree with Ellen, let's be kind to one another.

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