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Pre-prom mock crash turns into real accident in Detroit Lakes, 4 injured

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Detroit Lakes high school students -- who had gathered to watch a pre-prom auto accident drill Friday morning -- were shocked to see an unmanned fire truck accelerate down the street and plow into a car, injuring two students, an EMS worker and a state trooper.

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The mock crash started out as planned, with student actors portraying the aftermath of a drinking and driving accident on Madison Avenue near the high school, a fairly level street.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene, and soon after, it turned into a real accident.

A Detroit Lakes Fire Department truck (Engine No. 3) was parked on the street as firefighters removed mock crash actors from a vehicle.

Suddenly, it started moving forward, gaining speed, and finally plowing into the rear of one of the mock crash vehicles.

A firefighter quickly jumped into the truck, bringing it to a stop.

According to Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Dave Baer, the emergency brake was on and the truck was in neutral, as it should have been. There was no reason for it to have accelerated, he said.

"I've got the state coming to look at (the truck) and Swanson's Repair," Baer said. "Engine 3 isn't very old at all."

Detroit Lakes Police chief Tim Eggebraaten, who was filming the mock crash on his iPad, said four people were injured.

They include two of the student actors, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper, who suffered an apparent leg injury, and an EMS worker.

Their names were not immediately available. All were participating in the mock crash.

"None of the injuries appear to be critical," Eggebraaten said. The entire student body of DLHS was gathered for the mock crash and witnessed the real accident.

According to DLHS principal Steve Morben, assistant principal Eric Martinez made the call to end the drill and get the students back into school.

"We made an announcement about the intentions of the day and for students to remember what the message was intended to be," Morben said.

Students were also informed that there were several injuries, but they were not serious and the victims were being treated. Morben said people were available if any students needed counseling.

The high school also sent out an instant alert phone and email message to parents about the accident later Friday morning.

According to the instant alert message, the purpose of the mock crash was to remind students of the importance of making good decisions during the prom season.

"Unfortunately, a mishap occurred at 9:35 a.m. during the mock crash involving a fire truck malfunction that resulted in the truck impacting the vehicles that were being used during the scenario," the message read.

"There were Detroit Lakes High School students and other community members in the vehicles at the time of impact as well as emergency personnel that were responding as part of the mock crash scenario.

"As a result of the impact, some students and emergency personnel were injured, but none of the injuries, we are told, are of a serious or significant nature and that most who were responded to were being brought to the hospital for precautionary measures."

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Pioneer staff reports
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