GREENFIELD — The broken glass twinkling on the black pavement was enough to grab anyone’s attention.

But as Emily Fleming watched a firefighter cover her friend with a white sheet — the signature sign of car accident fatality — she knew the scene would stick with her.

Fleming and her Mt. Vernon High School classmates received a sobering lesson this week as the school conducted its biannual controlled car accident demonstrations before prom weekend.

The event staged a head-on collision behind the high school, and students were told one of their classmates had climbed behind the wheel after a night of drinking and caused the accident.

Thursday, juniors and seniors crowded around the debris of the crash and watched as four of their classmates were carted off — two on stretchers and two by police.

First-responders with the Fortville, McCordsville and Buck Creek Township fire departments helped organize the mock crash, which was conducted days before the school’s prom.

Fortville firefighter Cody Cushman said the local departments are always eager to partner with the schools to teach kids lessons they can’t learn in a classroom.

The demonstration was an eye opening experience, Fleming said. She’s heard of accidents like the one she watched unfold this week on the news, but seeing faces she knew among the wreckage tugged at her heart, she said.

Back inside the school, students heard from Larry Higgins of Pendleton, the founder People Against Impaired Driving (P.A.I.D.), a non-profit organization. Higgins tours the state telling students about the drunken-driving crash that killed his son in 2009.

Higgins pleaded with students to never drive while intoxicated, instead advising them to call home for help.

“Your parents would much rather have you home than see you in a body bag,” Higgins said.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or