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Niangua Fire Department docudrama drives message home for students

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With Niangua High School’s prom this Saturday, the Niangua Fire Department and Niangua R-V Schools decided to get an important message out to students beforehand about the consequences of drinking and driving and distracted driving during its mock accident/docudrama Thursday, April 12.

The mock crash took place behind the high school building, where a wrecked vehicle was situated. It was told from different scenarios: a drunk driver who had a few drinks, but was not paying attention; a passenger in the front seat who was paralyzed for not wearing a seatbelt; and a student who was walking across the parking lot texting and not paying attention. Four students played a part in the docudrama, including Kody Weaver, Elizabeth Donaldson, Taylor Kochs and Kay Shell.

Following the mock accident, a presentation was held in the high school gym. Guest speakers were Webster County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Berkstresser, Niangua Fire Chief Shawn Ricks, officers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the students who acted in the docudrama. In addition, Carolyn Bruce spoke to the students about her son, Dale Stafford, 19, who died Feb. 13, as a result of a car wreck. According to Thomas Cash with the Niangua Fire Department, there have been several accidents in the Niangua area in the last year that involved students or former students of the school district.

“Our motor vehicle accidents have tripled in the past year,” said Cash. “We wanted to do the docudrama and get a message out to students about what can happen if they chose to drink and drive or text while driving.”

Cash explained they have not done a docudrama for several years. He talked to the Marshfield Fire Department to get some ideas since it was his first time putting one together. He also worked with Cox EMS, Day Funeral Home, Fraker Funeral Home and other groups. Courtney Tindall did the makeup for the actors involved in the mock crash.

“We want to say a big thank you to Courtney Tindall for doing the makeup,” said Cash. “She is a makeup artist. One of our cadets is her brother, so that is how we were able to get in contact with her.”

A video of the docudrama was posted on the Niangua Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page and had already received many views within 72 hours of posting it, according to Cash, who added he hopes students and others will learn to exercise caution after watching the mock accident.

“It is all about using caution,” said Cash. “If we can save one life, then we have made a difference. These kids involved in the docudrama are speaking for the children that did not make it in car wrecks. The ones that thought, 'It was one beer, one drink,' or 'I was just going down the road, so I did not put my seatbelt on.' These kids hopefully will get the message out that this can happen to you because it was this close to happening to us.”

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