HARVARD -- The car standing between two trees near the fieldstone wall that separates The Bromfield School grounds from the cemetery in the center of town was a wreck. That much was real. But the crash scene, realistic as it looked, was a well-choreographed play, staged last Thursday morning for an audience of high school students, juniors and seniors whose prom was coming up the next night.
The scenario that followed was also an emergency services drill, as the dispatcher would state more than once when calling out the town ambulance and response teams.
The crumpled black sedan came from a towing company, which towed it to the scene. It was really involved in an accident and was squeezed up like an accordion, front and rear. The vehicle looked even worse after the emergency crews were done, with its front passenger-side door and part of the roof ripped apart by the Jaws of Life tool, which firefighters used to rescue a victim.
Three high school students were in the car, acting out the roles of a drunk driver and two victims for their classmates. One was a mock fatality.
A similar enactment was done last year during prom season and is generally held semi-annually, according to Bromfield School Nurse Colleen Nigzus, who was on scene last week, helping to coordinate the recent event. Students thought the message - don't drink and drive or ride with someone else who's been drinking or taking drugs ---was important. They asked for a replay this year, she said
Ben Wilmot played the role of the driver, who had been drinking and tried to run away after crawling out of the wreck. But his passenger, trapped in the front seat, called out for help and he came back.
"Ben, where are you going?" Olivia Rooney shrieked. "Please come back. Oh, my God, there's so much blood, help me please ... someone!"
After flunking a field sobriety test administered by Harvard Police Officer Daniele Fortunato, Ben was arrested.
Meanwhile, Olivia screamed piteously. I can't get out, call 911 ... my leg's hurt."
Turning her head, she could see her friend, who was in the back seat when the car crashed. Now, she was lying with her body half out of the car and her head on the ground. "Hannah, Hannah, please wake up!" Olivia pleaded.
But the other girl was silent, motionless. She was dead, killed in the crash.
Hannah Egan, whose clothes were ripped and stained with fake blood, played the role of the dead girl: corn syrup with food coloring.
EMT's worked to save her, but it was too late. With Ben in handcuffs, being led to the police cruiser, Olivia, now extricated from the car, was taken on a stretcher to the waiting ambulance. Hannah was on another stretcher placed away from the car on the grass, shrouded from her head to her feet in a white sheet. The enactment was over.
Everyone trooped into the auditorium, where a presentation would continue to drive the day's message home: Please, for your own sake and for those who love you, don't drink and drive or get into a car without someone else who's been drinking or taking drugs.