WARRENSBURG - Jami Ladd lay face-down on the hood of a smashed Ford Taurus, her lifeless arm draped over the fender. She lay still, seemingly lifeless atop the crumpled hood, wearing a prom dress splattered with mock blood.
Her friend, Warrensburg Central 11th-grader Dani DeSantis was kneeling nearby on the ground, also soaked in mock blood, sobbing while emergency responders wrapped foam braces around her head and torso so she could be transported in an ambulance.
She cried out in apparent anguish, watching emergency responders cover her friends' bloody corpses with tarps while firefighters pried the doors off another vehicle to remove two more "victims" also soaked in mock blood.
Six WCS 11th graders took part in this realistic drama, presented on a field beside the school Tuesday for the entire high school population. It was intended to drive home the point that alcohol and driving just don't mix.
Saturday is Warrensburg's prom, traditionally a time that substance abuse reaches its peak.
Without moving, Ladd offered a comment as emergency medical technicians swarmed around the other crash "victims."
"This is really kind of scary," she said.
Nick Monroe, posing as the drunken driver and the target of screamed admonitions from other crash victims, also offered his thoughts out of the earshot of his classmates.
"This is very realistic, and hopefully we can get the message across."
Emergency responders, including police, fire and emergency medical personnel, worked for 45 minutes using standard protocol as if the incident were real.
The re-creation included the arrival of a Medivac helicopter to portray flying a mock-crash victim away to Albany Medical Center.
Warrensburg Emergency Squad EMT Doni Noble narrated the incident, punctuating her talk with poignant observations that students might take to heart. She and Cathy Emerson and Cameron Dubay coordinated the event.
Watching the frantic activity, Warrensburg Squad Captain Stephen Emerson watched about a dozen of his volunteers work efficiently while bearing serious expressions.
"This provides a very valuable real-world exercise for everybody," he said.
In full turnout gear, Warrensburg Fire Chief Justin Hull offered a similar comment.
"This is an excellent exercise," he said. "Many of our firefighters don't get to go through such realistic scenes until it really happens."
Dave Alexander of Alexander Funeral Home said he's responded to quite a few drunken-driving crashes, where the blood was real, and the "victims" didn't have the privilege of returning to life's activities after the crash.
"Unfortunately, I've been to numerous crash scenes, and often it's young kids who think they're indestructible," he said.
School officials, who watched the drama unfold, noted that through the last 15 years, horrific car crashes have claimed a half-dozen or so local teenagers' lives, and in most cases, substance abuse was involved.
Principal Doug Duell watched as emergency responders attended to the needs of the blood-soaked victims, and a Warren County Sheriff's patrol officer interviewed the students in the crash.
"Unfortunately, we've been through real tragedies like this several times - and if today's presentation causes our students to think twice, it's been worthwhile."
Eleventh grader Erica Brauser watched the scene. She said it brought back memories of the death of a fellow student.
"This is hard to watch," she said.
Her friend Sandra Pope agreed.
"I can't imagine losing another friend like this."
Tenth grader Ashlie Morehouse watched the emergency medical technicians from Warrensburg and Bolton at work, tending to the mock carnage.
"This gives us insight into what really can happen," she said.
Strapped head to toe into a backboard in an ambulance, Dani DeSantis couldn't move.
"I hope no one's stupid enough to ever drink and drive," she said.