Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shattered Dreams

I thought very little about drunk driving when I was in high school. I consumed all of three wine coolers during those four years, and so while a chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving existed at my high school and members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) may have spoken to our class during our sophomore year, drunk driving did not hold a prominent position on my radar. (Yes, my parents covered drunk driving with me, but again, as a basically non-drinker in high school I paid considerably less attention to that lesson than I probably should have.)

My high school class - close to 500 students - was EXTREMELY lucky in that during our four years at Madison West High School we didn't lose a single student. To drunk driving or anything else. Very few classes at our high school were so lucky; my little sister's class lost a student to cancer, and there were car accidents, suicides, etc. in the classes surrounding ours.

I stumbled upon an article in the Bryan College Station Eagle about "Shattered Dreams", an awareness program hosted in partnership by the College Station Independent School District and the City of College Station Police and Fire Departments designed to educate students about drunk driving. "Good luck", I thought to myself. "As if high school students pay any attention to that sort of thing." But as I read on, I found myself engrossed in the article, which provided a detailed description and pictures of the program. This wasn't a school-wide assembly, during which experts and strangers preached and students played Angry Birds on their smartphones. This was an incredibly thought-out, planned, rehearsed, and presented live reenactment of a drunk driving accident scene.

As the junior and senior students at A&M Consolidated High School exited the building, they came face-to-face with an accident caused by a drunk driver just seconds before. They gathered around the scene of the crime, watching in complete silence as fire fighters used the jaws of life to pry apart the mangled wreckage trapping their fellow students - and friends - inside.

Meanwhile, a police officer questioned and paramedics treated the minor injuries sustained by the passengers in the drunk driver's car. Another police officer administered a sobriety test to the drunk driver, found him to be intoxicated, handcuffed him, and placed him under arrest and in the back seat of the patrol car.

Pan back to the crushed hunk of metal, out of which paramedics pulled severely injured students from the front and back seats. Four students - from both the drunk driver's vehicle and the vehicle the hit by the drunk driver - were transported via ambulance or helicopter to area hospitals. Two students, despite the paramedics' best efforts to save them, were pronounced dead at the scene by a justice of the peace. Their bodies were loaded into a hearse.

I watched this video more than once, each time more thankful than the last that the scene unfolding before me on my computer screen was a reenactment. Thankful that two children weren't lying on cold slabs in the morgue because some asshole chose to drink and drive. That the parents of two children weren't on their way to the morgue to identify their bodies because some idiot thought he/she was "fine" after having a few drinks. Thankful that in College Station, Bryan, and throughout the country, schools, police departments, and fire departments recognize that if their efforts reach even just one student, those efforts have been worth their while.

End scene.

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