Demonstration shows the dangers of drunk driving
MATTHEWS – Kati Burton lives not far from Butler High School and just a day before the junior-senior prom on the first weekend in May, the senior lay dead after being partially ejected from a vehicle that was involved in a horrific two-car crash in front of the school.
One vehicle had crashed into a tree while the second was overturned nearby. Nearly 20 first-responders with sirens blaring and lights flashing were on the scene minutes after the wreck.
A blood-soaked sheet covered Burton’s body as her distraught and screaming mother, Beth, was consoled and held back by onlookers.
Not far away, three of Burton’s classmates also were dead while others were injured and had to be extricated by responding police and fire personnel. Another classmate was nearby and under arrest for drunk driving while yet another student staggered around the scene clutching a brown paper bag with an alcoholic beverage still inside.
Hundreds of juniors and seniors from Butler had filed outside and watched nearby in near silence.
About 15 minutes after the wreck, Burton was up talking to her mother and the other victims of the crash also came back to life as the demonstration on the perils of drinking and driving was over. Burton and her fellow re-enactors had to get cleaned up for a second demonstration for yet another group of Butler students.
Burton and her fellow Butler Dream Team members put on the “Prom Night Gone Bad” demonstration to make an impression on juniors and seniors who would be attending the prom on May 5.
After more than two months of planning, a lasting impression was made.
Burton thought portraying a dead student would be easy. It wasn’t. Hearing her distraught mother is something Burton will never forget.
“I just had to stay completely still the whole time and that was difficult because I was listening to everyone that was yelling,” Burton said. “Trey (actor) was screaming at me to wake up. Once I heard my mom yelling in the second one, it makes you think. ‘I would never want to put someone through that.’ One of my friends told me they almost started crying when they saw the parents coming out and people being put on stretchers. It really did look real.”
Senior Kate Smith also played the role of an onlooker, having been in a car right behind the two vehicles involved in the wreck.
“We didn’t have a script, it was just our emotions coming out,” Smith said. “When we saw everyone laying there and all the sirens going off, it was super real. I even started crying. I was yelling and screaming. It was super emotional and I didn’t think I was going to get that way. It looked completely real.”
The Dream Team is comprised of 11 senior scholar-athletes or other students involved in extracurricular activities that are committed to being drug, alcohol, tobacco and violence free while upholding moral excellence. The Prom Night Gone Bad demonstration is just one of many events the group sponsors during the school year.
Dream Team advisor Natasha Deese said the group puts on the demonstration every other school year and it takes a lot of prep work to pull off.
“When it comes back in 2020, this year’s freshmen and sophomores will be juniors and seniors and they will have not seen it,” Deese said. “We started meeting with the first responders two or three months ago. Leading up to May 4, we had in-class meetings to work on their scripts and their costumes.”
Elizabeth Gill did all the makeup for the demonstration, and Deese said the junior did a terrific job.
“Elizabeth did a good job of making the wounds look realistic,” Deese said.