The focus will be on distracted driving when the third Out of the Wreckage mock crash is held Saturday in one of the parking lots across Fairground Road from the Highland County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro.
“Growing up as kids a lot of us heard of the dangers of drinking and driving, and that’s all so true, but we’re trying to get the message out there, too, about distractions like texting, playing with the radio, or bending over and kissing your boyfriend or girlfriend that can be just as dangerous,” John Moore, a part-time firefighter with the Highland County North Joint Fire District in Leesburg, said when he first organized the event in 2012.
Moore said he organized the event for two years, then got burned out because he was trying to do most of the work himself. He said he took a year off and now plans to hold the event each year with the help of a committee, making it bigger, better and different each year.
Food booths at the event area will open at 3 p.m. and the actual presentation will start around 4 p.m. The event is open to the public free of charge and in addition to a mock crash there will be videos, dramas, music, speakers, a simulated funeral; plus emergency helicopter crews, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and local fire and EMS personnel taking part, Moore said.
That all runs until about 7:30 p.m., then at 8 p.m. there will be music by a Christian band.
“It’s rated mature because I don’t like to butter it up,” Moore said. “I have a professional makeup artist coming in and I believe it’s the closest thing to a real crash you can come to.”
Moore said the event will start inside a large tent where there will be seating. He said the audience will hear a crash, then it will be escorted to the mock scene that this year will feature a school bus crash with several students on board.
The mock crash serves two purposes, according to Moore.
“It’s so educational not only for all our teens and others, but also for and fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel because how often do we have a school bus crash? Moore asked. “What would we do if we had a big bus accident? Maybe we can even get some of the school bus drivers to come out so they’d have a better idea what happens in the event of a bad accident.”
Other goals of the event are to raise funds for local firefighter and EMS training and/or equipment, and “we want the community to see how well we all work together when it comes to a mass casualty,” Moore said.
There will be donations jars for anyone wanting to help fund the event.
Seating will be provided inside the tent, but Moore said anyone wanting a seat in the outdoors area should bring one.
A rain date for the event has been set for Saturday, Aug. 29.
Anyone who would like to get involved or help sponsor the event can reach Moore at 937-403-8626.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.