Students at one St. John's high school came as close as they'd like Friday to experiencing all the shock and trauma associated with a drinking and driving crash.

And with graduation celebrations set for next week, the timing of the staged tragedy was no accident.

"We need to get across to students, and basically everyone in our community, that drinking and driving is a bad decision and that there are consequences for those bad decisions," said Raylene Mackey, a Grade 12 student at St. Kevin's High in the Goulds, who played the part of a victim in the two-car, head-on crash.

The re-enactment — replete with faux injuries, mangled wreckage, emergency responders and even a hearse — was almost too realistic for retired teacher Barb O'Keefe, who played Mackey's grieving mother.

"When I saw her with the sheet over her head, that was, you know ... I just ... I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a real parent."

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Grade 12 student Raylene Mackey played the part of a victim in Friday's mock crash at St. Kevin's High in the Goulds. (CBC)

Traumatizing even for an acting parent, but a scene far too familiar for volunteer firefighters like Gerry Antle.

"A lot of these guys, they basically see that kind of thing and it does affect us," he said. "It's something we don't want to go to, but someone has to do it."

Student Thomas Rahal was also taken aback by the emotion of the mock event.

"It felt real. Get out of the car ... a police officer leads me out. Handcuffed against the back of the car. I didn't like any of it, but who would ... being put in any kind of scenario like that — real or fake."

Mackey, a former Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador, is one of those students graduating next week.

She played dead Friday in the hope that others won't be future victims.

"You usually don't end up in a hearse alive. So it was definitely, you know, shocking. But I really wanted to be a part of that because it gets across to the students that one of their best friends or sisters could have ended up dying."