DIBOLL — Students stood in silence as they witnessed the Shattered Dreams scene unfold at Diboll High School Friday afternoon.
Sirens sounded as emergency response teams went into action during a fictitious drunk driving accident. Students watched as their peers were cut out of the broken vehicles and either taken away by ambulance, put in cuffs in a police car or laid out to be covered in a white sheet and pronounced dead by the justice of the peace.
All the while, the grim reaper is standing to the side in wait until the dead are carried away in a hearse.
The purpose of the Shattered Dreams program is to educate the student body on the impacts of drinking alcohol and to prevent the deaths and injuries resulting from drinking alcohol and driving, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Junior Carolyn Cortes played the drunk driver in this scenario. She said talking with the emergency responders helped her realize how intense these situations are, like the sounds of the wounded and dying.
“We don’t always take it seriously, but it is serious,” Carolyn said.
“I hope this teaches our peers that life is really important,” sophomore Muzainie Shepherd said. “Drinking and driving is not worth your life. It affects everyone, your family and your friends.”
“I hope seeing us will help our peers realize that this could happen to any of us all of a sudden,” sophomore Jade Beauchamp said.
Junior Paul Whitehead played the grim reaper. He spent 20 minutes in makeup and had to practice his stone-cold stare.
“As Death, this situation is the norm; Death is kind of used to it,” Paul said. “But as a person, it’s like dang. These kids died before they could even do anything.”
Dustin Cook with Due’s Wrecker Service has been donating vehicles to be used in Shattered Dreams for several years now. He said Shattered Dreams is a sobering experience.
“All the volunteers involved, from myself to the JP to the officers to the firefighters, everybody, this is stuff we see on a day–to–day basis; this is our life,” Cook said. “The kids don’t realize this stuff happens. You’re not bulletproof. You’re not invincible. Death can come at any time.”
As senior Ryan Pitre surveyed the scene, he had a different reaction than most of his peers. Ryan was in a wreck two years ago.
“I know the feeling,” Ryan said. “You don’t realize how your mind changes when you get into a wreck.”
Ryan was traveling home from spring break when the driver fell asleep and hit a culvert, driving the car into the trees.
“The first thing I remember when I woke up was the smell,” Ryan said. “From there I tried to figure out where we were and how to get out. When the doors are locked, you can’t do anything. You don’t know what to do in the first place. Nobody gets training for getting in a wreck.”
Ryan’s c7 vertebrae was fractured during the wreck, causing him to lose the ability to use his right arm. It took about six months for Ryan to recover and get out of a brace.
“You don’t really understand it ‘til you’re in it,” Ryan said.