Tuesday morning at Missoula Loyola's Ram Field, buses full of teenagers from local high schools were brought face to face with the deadly consequences of drunk driving during the "Your Choice" event.

At the event, accident victims played by local students were portrayed as having been ejected from a vehicle during a fatal crash caused by a drunk driver. A narrator provided updates on the condition of the victims as emergency service personnel worked to save their lives. Students heard an actual call for the Life Flight helicopter from St. Patrick Hospital over the loudspeaker.

"Life Flight, respond to a car crash with injuries, multiple victims, possible fatalities," the dispatcher said.

photo by Peter Christian

One young woman lying motionless on the ground, called Mariah, was beyond the help of the paramedics on scene.

"She was ejected out of the vehicle and struck a power pole," the narrator said. "Sadly, there was not a lot that could be done for her in this circumstance. This often happens in real life. In fact, just a couple of days ago, two people were ejected from a car crash out by Drummond. When you're ejected from the vehicle, there's really nothing left to protect you."

Dispatcher Call and Your Choice Narrator

photo by Peter Christian

While the sheriff's deputies and Montana Highway Patrol troopers were giving the drunk driver a field sobriety test, sheriff's spokeswoman Paige Pavalone pointed out dozens of white crosses that were planted in the middle of the football field.

"Those crosses represent the number of teenagers that died in vehicle related crashes in Montana in 2012," Pavalone said. "That was for a variety of reasons, not wearing a seat belt, achohol related, drug related, it runs the gamut of all teenagers who have lost their lives through vehicular crashes in 2012."

Pavalone hopes the stark realism of the accident tableaux will wake teens up to make some important decisions.

"We all hope its an 'a-ha' moment for the kids, to realize, wow, this is a major deal, she said. "Real people get killed, and what a travesty it is for their families, the community, and for the emergency personnel that have to extract these kids from these cars.We just hope to get the real shock factor for the kids, to make them think about drinking and driving and all the consequences that come along with that."

Also speaking to the students was real-life accident victim Colter Bennetone, a Florence High School graduate who was in a crash with several friends that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

photo by Peter Christian

"I was in the back seat in between two friends, not wearing my seat belt, when the truck rolled," Bennetone said. "I was ejected through the sunroof and my back was broken at the T-12."

Bennetone sat in his wheelchair before the crowd of teens and reminded them that it only takes five seconds to buckle their seat belt.

Accident Victim Colter Bennetone