BARTONVILLE, Ill. – With local schools winding down for the year, prom season is upon us.
Limestone Community High School’s dance isn’t until next weekend. But Friday the school put on another event to try to get everyone home safe next weekend.
“When they took the tarp back and the sound of the crash hit, it felt like an actual accident,” said Isaac Simmons, a Limestone Senior.
For the Illinois Neurological Institute, that’s the point. The group coordinates full-scale DUI re-enactments every year at high schools in Central Illinois. Their message to the high-schoolers they talk to is simple.
“They only have one body, one mind, and one life,” said Lisa Maynard with the Institute. “It can get taken away in just one moment.”
The group goes the whole nine yards with the re-enactment. Bartonville police and fire, the state police, the coroner’s office were all on hand to make the scene look as realistic as possible. For one person at the school, it was all too familiar.
“We lost our 18 year old son ten years ago,” said Michelle Watson. “This is the only way that I can make the kids understand what their parents are going to go through after an accident like this.”
Watson’s son was riding with two of his best friends, when one passed out behind the wheel because he was on drugs. The car flipped, caught on fire, and was on fire for three hours before 9-1-1 was called.
“It rips your life apart,” said Watson. “So if I can come out and speak at these schools and do these crash re-enactments to make these students understand what their parents are going to live every day for the rest of their lives without them, I’ve done my job.”
Watson has been telling her story to teens for eight years. She can’t change the past, but she hopes that by telling her story she might be able to prevent a future disaster.
“You can’t blame yourself,” Watson said. “You just teach them the best you can and hope you learn from it.”