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Lake Washington High School hosts DUI vehicular homicide simulation | Slideshow
A teenage girl hung out of the passenger window of a Ford Bronco as red streaks dripped down the door.
The vehicle’s front end was a mass of crumpled metal that twisted with the grooves of a smaller car’s crushed front end. Sirens blared as ambulances and police cars approached the Lake Washington High School football field.
Police officers arrived to open the car’s driver-side door. Beer cans rolled out.
What was once a place for happy memories and sport victories, was now the scene of a DUI vehicular homicide accident - or so it appeared.
Hundreds of Lake Washington high schoolers sat in the rows of the Kangaroos’ football stadium on Friday morning.
All eyes were glued as Kirkland firefighters carried out a lifeless looking body from the truck window, only to be covered by a white tarp. They stared as firefighters used the Jaws of Life to rip off a door to reach the others.
And mouths hung open when an emergency helicopter hovered above the field and landed between the scoreboard and football goal post, a narrow space.
Students watched as firefighters, EMT’s, police and their peers acted out a tragic DUI vehicular homicide simulation.
“We hope that especially in light of this, and with the holiday weekend coming up and prom, that these kids will choose to make a difference in the way that they celebrate,” said Andrea Frost, LWHS drug and alcohol counselor and organizer of the simulation.
Frost’s leadership class and the presenting group worked all school year on not only the DUI simulation, but to spread the word that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not “cool” and especially not OK.
“I’m just really proud of them,” she said. “These kids are stepping up and taking on leadership roles, whether they were in leadership class or the presenting group, simply to get a message across.”
Although Frost said it doesn’t appear students at LWHS have any issue with DUI’s, presenting the DUI simulation every other year does have an impact on students.
Ashley Aldrich, a LWHS student who played the role of “drunk driver” said she’s anticipated being in the simulation for a while and was glad to be a part of the mock accident.
“Getting to be able to be in it really gives you a hands-on experience,” said Aldrich. “It really could happen if you do drive drunk or under the influence of anything. It can have an affect on not only yourself but on people around you like friends and family and even people you don’t know.”
As the presentation transitioned from a teen boy being “airlifted” to a hospital while Aldrich faked a drunken sobriety test, a man named George Fraser prepared to give a speech on his own experience with the horrors of a DUI accident.
On Aug. 2, 2000, Fraser’s 19-year-old son Geoff went out at night to go to Gasworks Park from their home in Kent. But he never showed up.
“My phone rang at 3:30 in the morning. It was Geoff’s girlfriend Amy,” said Fraser, as he spoke to the LWHS students. “… She said please go downstairs to his room and make sure he didn’t come home.”
After discovering his son was gone, Fraser called 911, who then directed him to Washington State Patrol.
“I remember exactly where I was, I was sitting in a chair and I was rocking in that chair. It wasn’t a rocking chair. I had the hand-held telephone up to my ear and I was praying to God someone was going to tell me what hospital to go to. That someone was gonna tell me what jail to go to. Anything but the fears that were inside me,” Fraser said.
Eventually Fraser heard the news he had been dreading: his son, who had the tattoo “Fraser” on his shoulder - a positive identification - was dead.
After a rage-induced encounter at the medical examiner’s office from not being able to see his son, Fraser eventually found out what happened the night his son died.
Geoff was picked up by his friend, Brian, 23, in a two-door Honda with a lowering kit. The two planned to meet multiple friends in Seattle and left at 9:30 p.m.
According to Geoff’s friends, Brian, who was also killed in the crash, was drunk. Fraser said his blood alcohol level was tested at a 0.11.
“Geoff was sober,” Fraser said. “Geoff made a decision that night to get in a car with Brian, knowing that he was drunk.”
Brian took a 35-mile per hour curve that merged from I-405 to I-5 at 70 to 85 miles an hour. When he lost control, he tried to correct the skid but in turn hit the Jersey barrier. The Honda bounced off and hit it again only to land on the other side of the freeway, wheels down.
Brian and Geoff were immediately struck by a 1984 Chevy pick-up truck going 50 miles per hour.
“[The man driving the Chevy] only left 40 feet of skid marks until impact,” Fraser said. “Impact blew the roof off the car. Impact knocked the engine out of the car. Impact was so severe … the truck had pushed my son underneath Brian’s seat, a distance of about four inches.
“I don’t know how long I stood in Geoff’s room and cried,” Fraser recounts. “I don’t know if it was weeks or months but it was a very long time.”
Fraser said he eventually got himself together and became involved with DUI offenders and prevention by speaking to teens, such as the LWHS students, about his story.
Capt. Larry Peabody with the Kirkland Fire Department has helped to organize the LWHS simulation event for 15 years. And despite having heard Fraser tell his story before, Peabody said it’s “emotionally charged” every time.
“Distracted driving, texting, putting on make-up, eating breakfast, all those things are killing us,” said Peabody, adding that drunk driving isn’t the only problem. “… The Kirkland community looks to you as the future of Kirkland, please make the right choice.”