|Shattered Dreams drunk driving simulation: Stratford High School, 2014|
Today Stratford High School presented Shattered Dreams, in which students, faculty, and community volunteers come together to simulate a drunk driving accident in order to raise awareness and prevent these types of tragedies amongst teens. At 9:00am, all upper-classmen walked to the street along campus where two cars were positioned to look as if they had run into one another, both full of actual students. The “driver” of one car had been drinking, while the “driver” of the other car had been texting. Over the course of an hour, students and faculty witnessed fire, police, and EMS pull students from the vehicles and strap them to gurneys, zip them into body bags, or throw them in the back of police cars. One student was life-flighted to Ben Taub Hospital. As the scene unfolded, friends and parents of the participants were present to witness and grieve for the victims. A hearse came at the end to take bodies to the morgue. Tonight, the student actors will fulfill their roles further, as if they were truly involved in the accident. Parents will write obituaries for their children. Those who died in the accident will actually visit the morgue. And those students who were injured will spend the night in the hospital, their families by their sides. The rest of the student body will remain in class today, listening to the sound of a heartbeat flat-line over the PA every 15 minutes to represent the rate at which someone dies in a drunk driving accident in this country.
a HUGE thanks to Kim Lynch and the Stratford Yearbook staff for these incredible photos of the event.
This moving and tragic scenario will hopefully help teenagers recognize the true cost of one bad decision. I remember feeling invincible in my youth, thinking that tragedy befell other people, but not me. My normal life lay before me, vast and full of possibility. It isn’t until now that I recognize how foolish it was for me to think that way, and how lucky I am to be here to write this post.
This event hit close to home, as I lost two dear friends to a drunk driving accident in 2001, just around the corner from today’s simulation. Josh Pease and Seth Havers had been drinking heavily at the rodeo and, after taking others home, took a curve too quickly, hit a tree, and died at the scene. Their deaths were a tragic blow to those who loved them, and our impromptu memorial service at the scene of the accident left me feeling fragile and empty. Josh and Seth were lights in this world that went out too soon.
Also on my mind is the news of the tragic accident in downtown Austin last night during SXSW, in which a drunk driver sped the wrong way down a one-way street, crossed a barricade, and hit a crowd of pedestrians head-on. The accident took place in front of the Mohawk, our old haunt when we still lived in the capital city. In fact, we spent most of our SXSW experiences at the Mohawk, and our friends still visit the venue regularly. Tragically, the accident left 2 dead or 23 injured, and I’m thinking of those victims and their families during this tragic time and thankful for the safety of my friends.
Life is fragile, friends. Make good choices. Remember your own mortality. Keep the ones you love close. My heart is heavy today…