How to save a life

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019

Glenville-Emmons organizes mock crash ahead of prom


GLENVILLE — First responders zipped a Glenville-Emmons student into a body bag Thursday as a reminder of what can happen when people drive impaired, distracted or unbelted.

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Glenville-Emmons High School hosted a mock crash for its student body, in which National Honor Society students served as actors at the scene of a collision. In the scenario, one car was overcrowded and driven by a student who had been drinking. The passenger in the front seat of the other car did not put on his seatbelt.

“The purpose is to make our young people aware of what can happen when you’re not belted, you’re driving distracted or you’re driving impaired,” said Craig Rayman, Glenville-Emmons dean of students and activities director and Glenville-Emmons Fire Department assistant chief.

The mock crash involved responders from Glenville Fire Department, Mayo Clinic Ambulance, Mayo One, Minnesota State Patrol, Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and Bonnerup Funeral Services.

After first responders arrived, a firefighter checked the pulse of senior Bret Belshan. Students who could move were separated from the scene while rescue workers began caring for the others. After a few minutes, the firefighter working on Belshan pulled a blanket over his body.

“Is my friend dead?” a student cried. “Is he dead?”

Two students were placed on body boards, and one was taken to the Mayo One helicopter while the other was loaded into a waiting ambulance.

Bonnerup Funeral Services Funeral Director Spenser Brackey said the mock crash is an important message for not only students, but the entire community.

“Thankfully this is just a demonstration,” he said. “It’s a mock, a mock occurrence, but these things do happen. This does happen and it’s something to really take seriously.”

For substitute and paraeducator Cindi Golbuff, the crash was a reminder of one that happened a few hundred feet away, on U.S. 65 headed through Glenville. Across from the football field, her son rolled his car on prom night in 2008.

Nick Golbuff got ready for prom and went out with his friends — too many of them — in a mini Cooper, he said. They drove around, all unbelted but Golbuff, and had some “reckless fun” at excessive speeds. The group headed to Northwood for dinner with their dates in their respective vehicles. Golbuff and a friend raced down. Then, they raced back — “as if I hadn’t got it out of my system the first time,” he said.

About a half-mile from the school, Golbuff tried to pass his friend on the left. He lost control of the car and skidded across the road, entering the ditch.

The car flipped and rolled into a field.

“We both landed basically upside down, hanging from our seatbelts,” Golbuff said.

They were wearing them.

The couple crawled out of the passenger-side window, which had been broken in the crash, he said. Aside from bumps and bruises, the only injury was to his date. She had a broken nose.

“We didn’t go back to prom that night, needless to say,” Golbuff said.

In 2009, he attended the mock crash at the high school.

“It brought back memories,” he said.

The crash and the recovery was traumatic, Golbuff said, and he considers the mock crash a great tool. While the crash was a learning experience, it is not an experience he wants others to go through. He said he is grateful to the first responders who dedicate their time to make it happen.

“I’m glad they do it, because it’s good for people to be able to see that,” he said.

After the first responders finished at Thursday’s mock crash scene, students returned to the gymnasium for Belshan’s funeral. In the middle of the gym floor stood a wood casket, a small arrangement of flowers and a large photo of Belshan in a jersey. Belshan’s sister, father and mother all spoke.

“Even though it’s not real, it hits home as a parent,” Bart Belshan said afterward.

He said he hopes students took the exercise seriously, and to realize that they are not invincible.

Eleventh grader Sydney Rasmussen, who acted in the mock crash, said hearing the sirens really made it hit home. She, too, hoped other students took the exercise to heart and will not do things that may harm themselves or others.

“It made an impact on me,” she said.

For father Bart Belshan, the impact the mock crash had on him was more than he expected. But his family did it for a reason, he said. He knows many of these children.

“If I save one life, if we save one life today because of this, then it’s all worthwhile,” Bart Belshan said. “These kids got bright futures ahead of them that — just one choice, and it’s gone.”


About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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