Mock accident drives home grave lesson

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Mom Jenny Folbrecht gave the performance of a lifetime in Wauzeka-Steuben’s mock crash Wednesday afternoon. Her spine-chilling reaction to finding her “deceased son,” Braden Folbrecht, lying on the hood of a vehicle at an accident scene was so realistic, there were no words spoken by any of the stunned, teary-eyed students watching the scene unfold.

Coroner Joe Morovits photographs one of the deceased victims, lying underneath a white sheet at the scene of the fatal accident. (Photos by Correne Martin)

The mother of one of the victims, Jenny Folbrecht, is consoled by emergency responder Angie Manning, as the coroner asks for identification of her son.

Somber Wauzeka-Steuben High School students spoke very little during the mock crash, sponsored by the Wauzeka First Responders, Wauzeka Fire Department, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Boscobel EMS and of course the school district.

Mary Woodson narrates the scene of the two-car mock crash. She gave an in-depth description of exactly how difficult and emotional such scenes are for everyone involved, including the emergency volunteers.

By Correne Martin

The screams. The wailing cries. The unforgettable pleas for help. 

A mom’s hugging and rocking of her motionless son who lay bleeding and silent, dead at the scene of a crash—every parent’s worst nightmare.

The first witness on scene, Jenny Folbrecht, and her “deceased” son Braden were only “acting” as part of the “Never Imagined” mock crash scenario targeted at Wauzeka-Steuben High School’s young adults. These youth will soon be attending graduation parties, where they will potentially be tempted to have a few alcoholic drinks and then get behind the wheel. 

The mock crash performance was staged by the school, Wauzeka Fire and First Responders, Boscobel EMS and Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. 

It was all fake, in reality. 

But, the emotions relayed to those watching were staggeringly real. 

Emergency volunteer Mary Woodson narrated the hour-long scenario.

As the pretend situation unfolded, Mrs. Folbrecht came driving upon the two-vehicle accident, where six individuals were injured or killed, lives ultimately changed forever. She unknowingly stumbled upon her own son, lying dead on the hood of one of the vehicles. The crash impact was so severe that, even though everyone in the vehicles was wearing seat belts, Braden was still ejected through the windshield.

That’s when the mom’s uncontrollable weeping and haunting screams began—sounds that the upperclassmen watching won’t soon forget. They were all completely quiet, mouths wide open in shock and tears in the eyes of some. 

“This is a very real representation of a loved one at a fatal crash, acting in that manner,” Jaden McCullick, sheriff’s deputy, later told the students.

First responders were the initial professionals on scene, performing triage of the patients, including teacher Ben Dums (a driver) and students Carter Lomas, Nick Lund (drunken driver), Josie McCarthy and Jenna McCarthy.

Then, the fire department arrived and began tearing into the vehicles with extraction equipment to access the victims. 

“We come across scenes nobody wants to be involved in,” Woodson explained. “In real life, these kids could’ve been in these vehicles for hours before the accident was reported. Look at all the people who’ve shown up; think of all the families affected already. 

“Imagine trying to make access to those you know need help but who are trapped and unable to get out.

“Imagine being entrapped in a vehicle, scared, and when help arrives, they still can’t get to you, so you’re still alone.”

Once the victims were out, they were further assessed and then taken by EMS to the hospital for treatment. In Wednesday’s performance, the first patient was finally en route a half hour after Mrs. Folbrecht arrived on scene.

Students watching the mock crash also witnessed one of the patients, who had a severe head injury and chin laceration, and who was trapped for a long time before removed, stop breathing and go into cardiac arrest. It was Carter Lomas.

“He’s been surrounded by people who’ve lost their lives for last several hours unable to help anybody,” Woodson said. “Only moments ago, he was answering questions, aware of where he was. Now the situation is an [emergency]. We have to act now.”

Toward the end, the drunken driver, Nick Lund, underwent sobriety testing with law enforcement, in front of his peers.

“A lot of times, the driver who was driving drunk doesn’t even know what happened,” Woodson noted. “He had a few too many drinks. [No one stopped] to think of what the consequences of the night would be. They wish they could take the evening back. They never imagined this night would end like this.”

Since 2010, the number of young people’s lives lost to drunken driving deaths has decreased, she told the crash observers. “Until we hit zero young people dying from drinking and driving in Wisconsin, we have a long ways to go,” she stated.

Those whose lives are affected by tragedies such as these can never go back and change the events. They can only wish the decisions and outcome had been different.

Those who die as a result of these disastrous moments don’t even get the chance to make those wishes.

If only the friends had made safer decisions that fateful night. 

“Can you imagine: Now mom has to call dad. She has to give her husband and his brothers the news,” Woodson commented.

“The son she loved died. She cared for him from infancy until the young man he’s grown into. He can no longer tell her he loves her.”

Everyone’s lives have become a nightmare.

The hope with this mock accident is that the shattered glass, the devastated lives are only part of one, untrue story. A story that’s a heartfelt lesson of grave importance.

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