Mock wreck sends message
Manila High School students got a first hand look Tuesday at the results bad choices can have as they witnessed a mock wreck caused by impaired driving.
Manila Police Officer Jared Camp organized the event in an effort to caution students on the consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, texting and talking on the phone.
Officer Camp expressed his appreciation to all of the volunteers who participated. Bobby Tucker provided the vehicles, Cody Gentry provided the sound system and Entergy placed a pole at the site.
Others participating were State Police, Mississippi County Sheriff Department, Manila Police officers, Leachville Police officers, Emerson Ambulance Service, Howard Funeral Service, school administrators, parents and students, Air Evac, Survivor Flight, Hospital Wings, Blytheville Emergency Squad and others. Contributors to the event were Road Mart, Farmers Market, Capt. James Skinner and Freds.
The fictional scenario was a teenage driver drinking and driving causing a three vehicle accident with death and injuries. The drunk driver was portrayed by Alex Richard who was given a sobriety test and arrested on the scene.
Other students participating included Seth Grissom, Caleb Reinhart, Whitney Bunch, Abbie Jolliff, Lindsey Lee, Taylen Smith and Heather Hollis. School employee Scottie Reinhart and school board member Tracey Reinhart, also participated in the mock wreck.
Victims were taken by ambulance and helicopters. The coroner was also on the scene.
Emcee Heather Hollis gave the statistics on accidents caused by drunk driving.
Following the mock wreck, students and teachers gathered in the gymnasium as guest speakers spoke to the students. Speakers included Jackie Hill, Manila chief of police; Gene Kennett with the Blytheville Emergency Squad; and JoAnn Gamble, mother of a victim of a drunk driver.
Chief Hill shared with the students of his own wrong choices to drink and drive many years ago.
"I have to live with it," he said. "My son was only four months old and I made the wrong choice."
He told of his recovery and how difficult it was on his family.
"My brother was on the ambulance that had to pick me up," he said. "He has to live with that. You don't realize how many lives you touch."
Chief Hill encouraged the young people not to drive and drink or text and drive.
"This is your warning, we will stop you if we see you texting and driving," Chief Hill said.
"Don't let yourself get into a bad situation in a car with someone drinking and driving," he said. "Call your parents, call a teacher, call me or Captain Skinner. We will come get you. You have choices."
Kennett told the group of Manila high school students about his 17th birthday, Oct. 18, 1992.
"Three of my classmates were in a wreck going 130 miles per hour," he said "Then I had a friend who drowned three months later. I lost three of my close classmates. I just want you to know it is not cool to drink and drive."
Ms. Gamble shared her story about her young daughter who was killed by a drunk driver 28 years ago. She and a friend were on an ATV when a drunk driver hit them.
"What I am telling you are facts," she said. "My daughter's friend survived the accident and was able to tell what happened. When a drunk driver causes a wreck, it is no an accident. No family should have to go through what we have been through. Twenty-eight years later, we are still heart broken. Her last words when she left the house were 'I love you.' I will never hear her say that again. She never got to go to a prom, she will never graduate from high school, and she never got to get married."
Gamble pointed out it is not her business if someone takes a drink or two, but it is her and everyone's business when a person decides to drink and drive.
Principal Chris Ferrell talked about a speaker who talked to his high school group in the old gymnasium that made an impact on his life.
"Rick Sparks talked about what drugs can do to a family and he said if it helps one person this has been worth it," Ferrell said. "I want him to him to know it did make an impact on me. I did not want to have any part of drugs."
He encouraged the students if anyone has had an impact on them, to let them know.
"We have good parents, good teachers, and good students here," Ferrell said. "My favorite thing about this country is we can wake up tomorrow and do something different if we choose to. We educate everyone who walks through our doors and like Mr. Sparks said years ago, 'if it helps one of you the money, time and effort has been worth it.' Prom is coming up and we want you all to be safe."
"I hope our young people heard the message," Officer Camp said. "It took months of planning for this, but if it saves one person's life, it is well worth it."
A last reminder of the consequences of making bad choices was when the students left the gymnasium. They walked by an open coffin of their senior classmate, a victim of the mock wreck.