Every 15 minutes, a high school-age student in the United States experiences an injury or death due to drunk or distracted driving, and that image was brought home powerfully to students at Loyola Sacred Heart High School on Wednesday through what they called the 'Ghost Out'.

Two Loyola seniors, Hannah Henning and Emma Franz, chose as their senior project, to have Missoula County Undersheriff and Coroner Jason Johnson go into a classroom every 15 minutes and call out a student, who was taken into a room where he or she was made-up to look as though they had been in an injury accident, or had died due to distracted driving, and then spent the rest of the school day as a ghost.

Earlier in the day, all high school juniors went to Ram Field where a mock crash was conducted, complete with crushed vehicles, injured students treated by paramedics, law enforcement personnel and Life Flight to transport the injured to St. Patrick Hospital.

photo by Peter Christian
Loyola - Emma Franz

At Loyola, Emma Franz said the mock crash served as in introduction to the subject of distracted driving, while the Ghost Out brought the message home in a deeply personal way.

"If our entire population was just the school, every 15 minutes somebody would be injured or killed, so 24 or so students and one teacher would have died on this day," Franz said.

photo by Peter Christian
Loyola - Hannah Henning

Hannah Henning said her research has taught her to never text and drive.

"When I'm driving with a friend, now I'll just have them send a text or read a text for me, so I don't have to take my eyes off the road," Henning said. "I've always known how dangerous it is, but now I know the impact it can have on other people, and it can be anyone, even you."

The days events were sponsored in part by the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth.




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