Lockney High School students got an "up close and personal" look at "Shattered Dreams" during an emotional two day demonstration of the consequences of drinking and driving on young lives.
The "Shattered Dreams" program was organized by Justice of the Peace Michelle Araujo with the help of numerous law enforcement and EMS personnel, as well as counselors, parents, and school officials.
"Shattered Dreams" began on Monday, April 25, with selected students being taken from their classes by the "Grim Reaper". As the teenager is led away their "obituary" is read over the loud speaker. The obituaries were written by parents.
The youth, who are part of the "Living Dead", represent teenagers killed by drunk drivers.
Thirty "Living" students participated in the program. The "Living Dead" are not returned to class for 24 hours in an effort to impress on friends what it would be like without their friends in class.
Also on Monday morning a realistic two car collision was staged at the intersection near LHS. Professional make-up artists prepared the bloody injuries.
One student, Rance Schumacher, was flown from the scene in an Aerocare helicopter and later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Two other students, Graden Long and Jaime Ledesma, were "killed" at the wreck. Their bloody bodies were laid out on the ground for the students to see and later transported away from the scene in the Moore Rose White Funeral Home hearse.
A drunk driver, LHS Senior Meagan Stapp, was arrested at the scene (after field sobriety tests by a DPS Trooper), and booked into jail. She was later put through an emotional trial including testimony from a mother, Tracy Long, describing what her life would be like without her son, Graden.
Injured and transported by ambulance were: Emily Mercado, Rebekah Thornton, Landon Cotham, and Alyssa Poindexter.
Poindexter also dies at the hospital. Thornton is charged with Public Intoxication and Open Container. Cotham is also charged with Minor in Possession and Minor Consumption.
At the scene of the accident EMS, Fire Department, and Law Enforcement worked feverishly to free bodies from wreckage. Their efforts included cutting cars apart with the "Jaws of Life".
Justice of the Peace Araujo had to pull sheets back from bodies and pronounce them dead.
Students circled the accident and watched the proceedings from the sidelines.
Monday night the "Living Dead" were kept away from family. Counselors stayed with the youth all night and discussed the days events. The teens were told to write a letter to their parents, telling them what they wished they could have said before they "died."
Two of these letters were read at an emotional assembly on Tuesday morning, and are including in this week's paper.
At the assembly the "Living Dead" sat on the gym floor next to an open casket, and faced their friends in the bleachers.
Several speakers addressed the assembly, including DPS Sgt. Garcia, Trooper Heath Parker, District Attorney Becky McPherson, DPS Sgt. Gonzales, Trooper Phil Vandygriff, and Baptist Youth Pastor Chad Cook.
Trooper Parker spoke of the personal affect a drunk driver had had on his family after he was called to investigate a four fatality accident. One of the fatalities was his own sister. "I had to walk up to check the fatalities," said Parker. "I thought I recognized one of them and it turned out to be my sister. I still remember the frost on the ground where she was lying, how her hair looked and what she was wearing. Then I had to call my mother and tell her.
"My sister made a bad decision. She had no alcohol in her system, but she chose to get in a car with someone who was drinking."
A Crosbyton student, Jason Trevino spoke of losing his brother, Andrew, to a drunk driver. "He was coming home from work and a drunk driver was driving on the wrong side of the road on the loop. He hit my brother head on and broke his neck. My cousin was in the car and his legs were shattered."
One side of the gyms' bleacher rails were covered with posters made by each "Living Dead". The posters included pictures throughout their own lives and their own printed obituary.
The assembly ended with teary eyed "Living Dead" and parents hugging and discussing the lessons learned from the Shattered Dreams program.