DWI simulation warns teens

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Manila high school students received an eye opening experience as they viewed a realistic "mock wreck" on Friday involving eight people including fellow classmates and a teacher.

Mock wreck warns students of drinking and driving.

The enactment was sponsored by the Manila Police Department and coordinated by Manila Officer Todd Emison.

"This is something we want the students to take seriously," Emison said." A lot of work goes into this and it is worth it if it opens the eyes of the students. Graduation is coming up and we just want them to be aware of the consequences of making the wrong decisions."

Students participating included Maegan Presson, Kylle Scott, Stephanie McGuire, Andrew Fleeman, Brooke Hill, Becca Studebaker, Jerry Jaco, Meg Wilhite, Tanner Smith and Erin Flagg. Teacher LeeAnn Helms also participated.

Emison and Gary Hill expressed their appreciation to everyone who helped including members of the Manila Police Department, the Manila Fire Department, Pafford and Emerson Ambulance Services, Howard Funeral Service, the school, Chuck Wilder, the State Police Troopers, County officers, Bobby Tucker, Cody Gentry First Responders, Greene County Tech camera crew, and the guest speakers.

Guest speakers included Dr. Walt Short, Dr. Tommy Wagner, Diana Davis with KAIT news, Judge Shannon Langston and JoAnn Gamble.

The Air E-Vac was scheduled to participate in the enactment but due to weather was not able to fly in.

The crash was based on drinking while driving but Emison pointed out alcohol is not the only cause of wrecks. He cautioned the young people to never drink and drive, always wear seat belts, do not talk on cell phones or text while driving.

Following the enactment, students gathered in the gymnasium to listen to the speakers.

Dr. Short talked of his own experiences as an emergency room doctor fighting hard for the lives of accident victims.

Student Andrew Fleeman portrayed the driver under the influence of alcohol and the cause of the wreck.

"I want to tell you how it felt to be in there," he said. "Just sitting there, knowing it was fake, but I still wanted to cry. We take life for granted every day. Something as simple as drinking can take it all away. It would be horrible to lose any one of you."

Diana Davis spoke of her experiences as a reporter and one wreck she worked as a young reporter involving a car/train collision where several young college students were killed. She said it had been over 20 years but she still carries the images of that accident.

"What you have seen today is sobering," she said. "It is realistic. Take these graphic images and remember them every time you get in a car."

She encouraged them to never drink and drive or get into the car with anyone who has been drinking.

District Judge Shannon Langston cautioned the young people about not only drinking driving, but using cell phones while driving or texting while driving. She told of the soon to be changes in the law informing them they can lose their cell phones and receive a ticket for using their cell phone while driving. She pointed out a DWI is a DWI at any age with the same penalties.

She said she would be glad to provide copies of the law to the young people.

The key speaker was JoAnn Gamble who spoke to the students about losing her 13 year old daughter in the late 1980s because a person was drinking and driving.

Her daughter and a friend were riding a three-wheeler near their home when they were hit by a driver who had been drinking. Her daughter's friend survived the accident, but Gamble's daughter did not.

She shared her story and cautioned the young people to never drink and drive.

Emison thanked all of the speakers and the students for their attention.

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