Firefighters, law enforcement stage crash scene at West Rowan High School

  • Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:22 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:44 a.m.
West Rowan firefighter Dustin Pruitt plays the role as the driver in the
West Rowan firefighter Dustin Pruitt plays the role as the driver in the "VIP For A VIP" program at West Rowan HIgh in the program reenactment where a student was killed in a car crash. photo by Wayne Hinshaw, for the Salisbury Post

MOUNT ULLA — Just in time for Saturday’s prom at West Rowan High School, local fire and law enforcement agencies offered a program there Wednesday in an effort to prevent tragedies on the road.

The program, “VIP for a VIP” (Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person), was presented in two parts. A morning presentation and video gave students facts and figures directly related to young adult driver fatalities. In the afternoon, the students watched an outdoor demonstration of a fatal car crash.


Suzie Simmons, a Thomasville resident who works at Rowan Family Physicians in Salisbury, spoke to the students in the morning. Her 17-year-old son Justin died on April 30, 2010, in a crash in Thomasville a week before his graduation.

Two more local mothers who lost their sons in car accidents also attended the program Wednesday. Joann Cross’ 17-year-old son Marc Payette was killed on Centenary Road on Aug. 1, 2009. Mendee Williams lost her 18-year-old son Gregory Williams on July 11, 2009, on Sherills Ford Road.

In the afternoon, fire departments and the rescue squad simulated responding to a mock fatal wreck scene where a car had hit a telephone pole. They cut the top off of the car and tried to rescue the driver, but their best efforts failed. Throughout the demonstration, an announcer voiced what the driver would have been thinking and saying.

Students were encouraged to complete and return the “VIP Contract for the Life of a VIP,” which includes an agreement to a “zero tolerance” for drugs or alcohol and outlines safety measures the student promises to take.

The “VIP for a VIP” program was sponsored by Rowan County Emergency Services along with the West Rowan, Locke and Cleveland fire departments, Rowan County Rescue Squad, Rowan County Emergency Services EMS Division, the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Kluttz Wrecker Service and area law enforcement including the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

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