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Operation Prom Night

Monday, April 22, 2013

As prom season is gets under way, ABC7's Roz Varon shows us how some Chicago students are getting an eye-opening lesson on the tragic effects of drinking and driving.

Students at Resurrection High School took part in a dramatic simulation of a prom night gone very wrong and watched a mock fatal car crash, complete with emergency response vehicles, paramedics and a hearse.

"Teens do drink. They do experiment with alcohol. We want to discourage that," said Mark Nielsen, assistant deputy commissioner, Chicago Fire Dept. Operation Prom Night is a dramatic educational program that shows the impact of drinking and driving.

"If we arm them with the knowledge to make the right decision, then they have the opportunity to make the right choice," program Director Jennifer Bleicher said.

"I don't ever want to be involved where I'd have to see my best friend lying on the hood of a car because even pretending it was one of the worst experiences I've had to endure," said Katie Nicoley, a Resurrection High School junior.

"It was giving me the chills, and I was getting nervous. I started tearing up, and I was like, wow, this is really happening!" said Resurrection Student Council President Kayla Williams.

"It was intense. We got a little nervous before when they were putting the blood on and everything," senior Abbie O'Donnell said.

The mock crash is just one part of Operation Prom Night. After the fatal crash simulation, students heard real stories from real first-responders and crash victims.

They listened intently to heart-breaking stories from an ER doctor, but the most impact came from DUI crash victim Marti Belluschi, who was only 15 when a drunk driver struck her car head-on at 90 mph.

"I flew forward through the windshield. I came back, whip-lashed through a broken windshield. I was in a coma for five days and in the hospital for two and a half months," said Belluschi, now a traffic safety consultant.

The graphic description of her injuries was too much for one student, but the overall response was overwhelming.

"I've been able to use that tragedy and the tragic story to change lives, to save lives, to encourage young people to make positive choices," Belluschi said.

For more information, check out www.facebook.com/operationpromnight or follow Operation Prom Night on Twitter: @oppromnight.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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