Hoax drink-drive death horror for US students
US police and teachers have faced a furious backlash after hoax announcements of the deaths of fellow students as a road safety stunt.The authorities told a group of high school students in California that two dozen of their classmates had been killed in road smashes.
But they had to admit it was just a hoax when the teenagers at El Camino High School became hysterical with grief. The fake announcement was part of a road safety campaign meant to scare the students off drink-driving.To make it seem real, highway patrol officers visited the school on a Monday morning to deliver the grim news explaining why 26 students were missing from class.
The Associated Press reports some students wept, some felt physically ill and others were completely overcome. Sensing the hoax had gone too far, some teachers decided to break character and tell the grief-stricken students it was not true. Word quickly spread throughout the school and shock and pain was replaced by fury and disbelief.
One student, named as Michelle, who had been told her friend David had been killed, was quoted as saying: "They got the shock they wanted". She had been told David had died instantly after a drink-driver crashed into his car.Another student she felt betrayed by people she is supposed to be able to trust.
When the hoax was revealed, students began screaming in anger at the teaching staff. At a later assembly, they held signs saying: "Death is real. Don't play with our emotions", the AP reported.Those who were slow to hear the news of the hoax then had the added shock of seeing their "dead" friends turn up for class.
School officials are unrepentant. "They were traumatised, but we wanted them to be traumatised," a guidance counsellor was quoted as saying.
The area's schools superintendent said there had only been a handful of complaints and that it appeared as though the message had got through.