LANCASTER, WISCONSIN (KWWL) -- Drunk driving and teens: While fatalities have decreased, it's still a big problem. Nationwide, the latest government data says ten percent of 16-year-old drivers in fatal accidents were legally drunk.
A unique program in the tri-states is trying to bring the number of teenagers drinking and driving down. The S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition, the Grant Regional Health Center Foundation and the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health are sponsoring the 2nd annual "Plunge" in Lancaster.
More than one hundred 8th, 9th, and 10th graders gathered at the Grant County, Wisconsin Fairgrounds for a mock car accident, caused by an underage drunk driver.
The story line says five people died Many of the actors are classmates of the onlookers.
"This is really an intense part, so it gets to some people and gets them really thinking about it, so it helps a lot I think," Mock victim Danielle Little said.
The story didn't stop there. The program took the kids to a funeral home and the emergency room where the mock driver and one victim were taken.
"We really wanted to go one step above and beyond and tell the kids it's more than just the accident. You lose your family, your friends, this is what happens to your family members. There's so much more to it and witnessing it, seeing it is a lot different than a guest speaker or reading about it in a brochure," Tonia Wagner, coordinator of Stop Underage Drinking Now said.
"It changed my whole idea of drinking and driving. It actually scared me about the accident at first," 8th grader Emilie Rojemann said.
The scenario ended in court, complete with an initial appearance with the mock driver in an orange jumpsuit and cuffs. There were also victim impact statements, sentencing, and nearly five million dollars in damages.
"It's that awareness before they get their license, just to let them know... This is what could happen," Wagner said.
"Since I've seen this, I can tell other people how it will be if they start drinking and driving, and help them make the decision," 8th grader Kelly Bode said.
After the morning demonstrations, the students heard from a mom and dad who lost three of their five sons in one drunk-driving accident.
The program has funding to do "the Plunge" for at least the next two years.