The eerie silence of a pretend crash site was broken by victim screams and emergency response sirens arriving on scene.
More than 200 Wakatipu High School Year 12 students crowded around a crumpled mess – the result of a distracted driver T-boning another car, pinning it into a power pole at the Queenstown Events Centre.
The victims, played last week by Year 13 drama students, included one person left dead and two others seriously injured.
Emergency response teams responded just as they would in real life by smashing windows and using the ‘jaws of life’ to extract people from vehicles.
While the scenario’s fictional, the goal’s to show students the real consequences of poor driving.
It’s a horrifying situation paramedic Chris Marr sees too often in Queenstown.
“It’s kind of a scare tactic in some ways … but we want to make sure the students start off on the right foot when they’re learning to drive.
“We want to show the repercussions because people believe driving is a right, rather than a privilege.”
The Drive to Survive Expo, organised by the Wakatipu Youth Trust and held annually since 2011, educates students about dangerous and distracted driving, blind spots, Queenstown road conditions, alcohol impairment and much more.
This year’s guest speakers included a crash victim who’s been left with life-long injuries, an A&E nurse and a young man talking about the impact a drink-driving conviction’s had on his life.
Drama student Annie Black, who played one of the victims, attended the expo last year and says it’s made her more aware of the importance of driving carefully.
“My friends were in the practice crash last year and I got quite upset because it was sobering to see them in that situation.
“Telling us what’s safe and what’s not is very educational.”