SALISBURY, N.C. -- Crashes involving teen drivers are up in North Carolina, which is third in the nation for teen driving deaths.
This is a statistic that hits close to home for students at East Rowan High School in Salisbury.
"You're inexperienced, you're overconfident and you get over your heads," said a member of the Vehicle Prevention Program to hundreds of students.
The students filled bleachers outside of East Rowan High as if they were getting ready for a pep rally, but the first responders on the scene were there to rally for a different cause. The Vehicle Prevention Program teamed up with paramedics, law enforcement and fire departments from all over Rowan County to reenact a deadly crash scene.
"It's a little graphic, but they need to see it because that's reality," said Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten.
Officers removed a tarp, unveiling a crushed vehicle with a bloodied teen still inside. Under this scenario, the teen hit a utility pole at a speed of 55 mph. Students watched as firefighters used the jaws of life to remove the doors to get the teen out. Stunned students looked on as paramedics tried unsuccessfully to save his life.
"It was hard to hold back all the tears," said East Rowan High student William Hunter Evans.
Evans' best friend, Hunter Schenck, was killed in a car crash last June.
"It was really disturbing to find out my best friend since third grade died," he said.
"It's something no parent wants to be a part of, nobody wants that notification," said Schenk's mother, Jennifer Shoe. "I certainly didn't."
Her son had turned 18 six weeks before the crash. She says he over-corrected and ended up in a ditch. He would've been a senior at East Rowan High this year.
"He was not wearing his seat belt and he was ejected, and he had a Chevy blazer-- a 5000-pound vehicle-- and it rolled right on top of him," she explained.
Eighty-one teens died in North Carolina in car crashes in 2015. In 53% of those crashes, teens were not wearing seat belts. Sixty-percent involved unsafe lane changes in 2015, down from 91% the previous year. Alcohol and speed are also factors, responsible for 22 and 45% of fatal crashes.
"I just honestly hope that this impacted those kids that they really understand that it can happen, it has happened," said Shoe.
Copyright 2017 WCNC