Mock accident chills with reality

Slapped in the face with a taste of reality this past week, Brady High School students who left the prom Saturday night had to think twice before heading out to that “post prom party,” especially where alcohol and driving were concerned. Given a graphic and vivid demonstration of what happens at an accident scene brought on by drunken driving, students at Brady High School observed several emergency management teams as well as law enforcement personnel as they worked a mock traffic accident. The accident, coordinated to influence youth not to drink and drive, was in every way realistic. The mock accident began with the sound of a simulated wreck played over the loud speaker at Brady High School. Students filed to the accident scene which was staged in the parking lot next to the practice football field. Once the two-car collision was sounded, the tarps that covered a 1988 Ford Bronco and a 1989 Mercury were removed to reveal a devastating scene. The 1989 Mercury was occupied by Andy, Janna and Carter McBee with Andy at the wheel. The other vehicle, driven by Jeff Bowden, carried Alexis Adams, Brian Hovorak and Danielle Snodgrass as passengers. Like any accident that involves alcohol, injuries can range from a minor sprain to an unforseen death. In Thursday’s mock accident, the injuries were just that. Some sustained little injury while others, obviously less fortunate, took a trip to the county morgue. It’s a scene that many people hope to never have to witness. For students at Thursday’s demonstration, reality hit home when they saw fellow classmates, friends and family members thrown about in the vehicles. For others the drama brought back painful memories. “When I walked up on that accident scene and saw the two bodies covered with a sheet, it took me back to a real accident in Austin where three young girls who had left school for lunch were killed by a drunk driver,” said Brady Police Chief John Stewart. ” Following the makeshift collision, three fellow classmates and prom attendants, Maggie Aguero, Willie Nuncio and Candace Copeland, drove up on the scene. Reacting to the scene, Willie reached for his cell phone and called 911. Immediately following, EMS, law enforcement personnel, the fire department and Shannon Medical Center’s Air Med 1 were dispatched to the scene to access the damage and aid the victims. Two of the individuals in the collision, Mrs. McBee and Danielle, were pronounced dead at the scene. For those trapped in the vehicles, reality set in as crews worked diligently for several minutes with the Jaws of Life to release them. The idea for the mock accident stemmed from a similar scene that was played out in Mason the week prior. “We had only six days to plan and arrange the accident,” said event coordinator Tisha Shuffield. “Cindy Loeffler was the event coordinator in Mason. She gave me all of her information the day after they simulated their wreck and I took it from there to Max Gordon, Preasley Cooper, Liesa Land and Lynn Munden. “Tommy Beard of HOT Towing donated the two vehicles for the accident and even turned down a $300 profit to donate one of the vehicles used for the mock accident. “Air Med 1 transported Brian Hovorak to the Heart of Texas Memorial Hospital where he was treated as if it was an actual accident. “The hospital asked to assist with the traffic accident as well,” said Mrs. Shuffield. “They needed practice for mass casualties, and we were happy to assist. “The event was a great success, and all the feedback that we’ve received has been positive. “Most schools do the accident every three to five years to intensify the effects. There are different parts of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Shattered Dreams Program that we can re-enact every year,”she added. Also assisting with the mock accident were EMS representatives from Mason, Heart of Texas Towing and Heritage and Leatherwood Funeral Homes. “We’re glad the mock accident has had an effect on people,” said student actors involved with the drill. “It made us feel good to participate in an event that is educational. We’ve gotten mixed responses from students but most said that it looked very real and made them stop and think. We believe everyone gained a lot of experience through the event. “Several students were so overcome with emotion that they had to leave the accident scene. “Personally, I didn’t feel the impact of the drill until I had to write my own obituary,” said Danielle. After the victims were taken from the accident site, the students attended an assembly in the BISD auditorium that focused on the events which had previously unfolded. In a taped message, Danielle, one of the less fortunate victims who died at the scene, stated for the crowd: “I was so excited about going to Austin next year. I had only three months to go. I had everything planned out in my life with my career and with my family. Rhett and I would have had so much fun planning our future together. I had always thought we would get married and grow old together like I had always dreamed about. And my friends, I knew in the future we would get in touch and share with each other how great our lives had been going. We would talk about past memories, how much fun we had as cheerleaders on football game nights, how Beth and I forgot our trumpets at the first away game as freshmen, how Kati and I had played basketball together every year since we were in seventh grade, and all the immature stunts we pulled in high school and we would laugh about them together. But I can’t do all of those things I had dreamed about now. Rhett will marry and plan his future with someone else. My friends will talk about their lives that they have built for themselves, and I will only be a high school memory that they talk about. It’s not fair. I had a great life and everything going for me. I did not realize one night could have such a devastating impact on my life. How can I convince God that I can’t die yet; that I haven’t made my place in this world, and that I’m not ready to stop dreaming’ Can’t I at least say good-bye to everyone. It’s just not fair. Like every teenager, I had dreams. I thought working hard and being involved in high school activities would prepare me for my future. Instead, my effort was wasted because I wanted my senior prom to be memorable, and in a tragic way’it was.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 1997, alcohol was involved in 38.6 percent of fatal crashes and that one alcohol-related fatality occurred every 31 minutes. Closer to home, 49 percent of all crashes that occurred in Texas were alcohol-related. Even more alarming, three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. Positive peer pressure can discourage alcohol-impaired persons from driving.

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