Mock Crash Represents Real Life Tragedy

Mock Crash Represents Real Life Tragedy

Police comfort an accident victim during Henderson's Mock Crash The drunk driver in Henderson's Mock Crash surveys the crash scene. Emergency personnel lead a student actor away from the accident scene

“Kids make mistakes all the time, but this is one mistake where there are no do-overs,” said Henderson High School Principal Dr. Jason Sherlock. Sherlock was talking about Henderson’s Mock Crash which was held on May 1st.

Mock Crash is designed to remind students of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. The presentation is given to the junior class before prom season when there is typically an increase in these types of accidents.

Chaos would be one of the words to describe the staged scene. The loud chatter among students quickly came to a halt when the tarps covering the wrecked vehicles were pulled back to unveil the devastation. Student actors poured emotions ranging from despair to anger into their performance. Emergency personnel arrived on the scene adding to the authenticity of the event. Henderson Mock Crash victims await medical treatment

After the demonstration, students returned to the school’s auditorium to hear the emotional story of one man’s decision to drink and drive.

Guest Speaker Michael Vozzelli from Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Crusin’ Smart program shared his traumatic experience.

Vozzelli played three sports in middle school that carried into high school - track, wrestling, and soccer. When he was thirteen, he started drinking in order to fit in with his older peers. In high school, Vozzelli began taking drugs in excess, but he found it did not hinder his athletic abilities. He could still run a mile in five minutes and a 100-meter dash in 12 seconds.

As he moved grade levels, his fitness regime increased as well. He began bodybuilding and played football with his neighborhood friends. In 11th-grade, Michael ran a mile in 4.26 minutes, the world record at the time was a tenth of a second faster. He also ran a 100-meter dash in 10 seconds.

“I thought I was going to be the exception. I wasn’t going to be an alcoholic or a drug addict.  I thought I was invincible.” Vozzelli told the students.

“When I graduated from high school, I was an alcoholic and drug addict; only I didn’t know it at the time.”

On his 21st birthday, Vozzelli and a friend went to Atlantic City to celebrate legally for the first time.  “Who would have thought that the biggest gamble we would take on that day would be in getting home,” a partially paralyzed Vozzelli told the crowd. “I didn’t, and I lost that bet.”

Anger over takes a student actor during Henderson's Mock Crash When they left Atlantic City, Vozzelli’s friend was too intoxicated to drive, so Vozzelli got behind the wheel - it was the only time he ever drove drunk.  A couple of miles later the car flipped, five times.

The accident left him in a coma for months. While hospitalized Vozzelli dropped over a hundred pounds of muscle tissue and ended up being an 89-pound “human paperweight.”

“I was dependent upon total strangers for the most basic needs of survival. They had to change my diaper.”

Vozzeli underwent ten months of inpatient therapy and five years of outpatient therapy. Despite all of his efforts, he was left permanently paralyzed on his left side. His speech was impacted as well. 

“All of the people I thought were my friends deserted me. There is not one person in my life today from before my accident.”

Since his accident, Vozzeli lived with his mother who took care of all his needs. She recently passed away, and he has been left to fend for himself.

Vozzeli works part-time, as the brain damage he suffered prevents him from staying awake for more than eight hours at a stretch. The girlfriend he was with at the time of his accident left him while he was in a coma and his dating life is non-existent.A white sheet covers the "deceased" victim of Henderson's Mock Crash

“I call what happened to me an accident because accidents are preventable.”

The day was made possible with help from DJ Sound and Lighting, Jeff Stat Helicopter, Media Theater, Paoli Hospital, Main Line Hospital (Cruisin’ Smart), West Chester Fire Department, Good Fellowship Ambulance, State Farm Insurance, West Goshen Police Department, and Chester County Coroner’s Department, the Henderson SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) club.

-Written by Henderson Senior & WCASD Communications intern Cassie Wright