A mock wreck was held at Riverside High School Wednesday morning during prom week. Prom was held Friday evening and the mock wreck was an effort to send a strong message to high school students of the importance of making good choices.
The scenario was explicit of the consequences of what drinking and driving can cause. Several Riverside high school students participated in the enactment.
Students participating in the enactment sending a powerful message of what can happen were Sarah Douglas, MJ Brewer, Josh Anderson, Jake Love, and Beth Anne Snyder.
Mrs. Taylor's daughter, Melanie Taylor, was killed by a drunk driver when she was 19 years old almost 20 years ago.
Melanie was a 1991 graduate of Riverside High School and attending college when she was one of the two young women killed in a car wreck.
"Life is what happens to you when you are making plans," Mrs. Taylor said.
She encouraged the students to make good decisions. She recalled the last words her daughter said to her.
"The young man who killed our daughter was only 27," she said. "He thought he was having the time of his life. His life changed by his wrong choices. He never got over it. I forgave that young man. You can't hate, it will eat you alive."
Mrs. Taylor has spent her time talking to young people, prison ministries and trying to help others not make the wrong decisions.
She told the young students what they do is up to them.
"You will make your own choices," she said. "The night Melanie was killed was just like any other day. She told me bye and that she loved me. She said she would be right back, but she never came home. I feel sad today. I think it is being here where I graduated and where she graduated making me sad."
She encouraged the young students to make the right decisions and go home and give their parents a hug.
She displayed a beautiful senior picture of her daughter and a picture of the vehicles after the wreck that took her life.
Shawn Perrin with Medic I spoke to the students. He is the son of Riverside teacher Judy Perrin.
He told the students 45,000 people a year are killed in automobile accidents with 41 percent caused by drug/alcohol abuse and 29 percent caused by cell phones.
"I've been at this a long time," he said. "You know what death is but do you know how it affects loved ones?"
He shared a story he said he would never forget. He had just started work and at the age of 19 he worked a horrible wreck with two sisters killed.
He talked of the thousands of head injuries and spinal cord injuries caused every year by wrecks, and what it takes to care for them and how their lives, as well as their loved ones lives are changed forever.
He encouraged the students to make good decisions.
Next on the agenda was Officer Justin Rolland with Craighead County Sheriff's Department.
Officer Rolland encouraged the young people to take to heart what Perrin had said.
"Look around this room (he pointed to the fire fighters and police officers in the room)," Rolland said. "They have over 300 years of experience. They have all seen and experienced what Shawn was talking about."
He gave statistics on the charges and consequences of DUIs as far as the fines and jail time.
"I've seen a lot of people go to prison in my years but what scares me most is knowing parents, sisters and brothers are living without their loved ones," he said.
He said statistics show on average young people take their first drink at the age of 14 and two out of five eighth graders have consumed alcohol. He went on to say 64 percent of underage drinkers have binged.
"I know part of growing up is trying new things," he said. "Young people drink to fit in, release stress, because their parents do, it is easy to get, but there are consequences to the choices you make. I have arrested people for murder, rapists, drug related charges, but of all the things I have seen to this day, walking up to the front door and knocking at 2 a.m. to tell a mother and dad their child has been killed in a wreck, that their child is not coming home is hard.
"As I stand here I know some of you in this room will drink and drive. I know somewhere in the state of Arkansas this weekend someone will ignore what is told to them by teachers, parents, medics and will die or kill someone in a car accident. I am asking you not to become that person. I don't want anything bad to happen to friends and family. Your family is counting on you."
Principal Chad Jordan thanked everyone for their time. He introduced Chris Snyder with the Fire Department and expressed his appreciation to him for putting the program together.