Mock wreck sends strong message
Manila High School students witnessed a mock wreck Friday, March 31, prior to the 2017 prom night set for April 7. The event, held every other year, encourages students to make the right choices.
Lt. Jared Camp with the Manila Police Department 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.
Lt. Camp expressed his appreciation to all of the volunteers who participated. Lt. Camp thanked Bobby Tucker's Wrecking Service, Manila Mayor and City Council, members of Manila Police Department, members of Manila Fire Department, Sonny Ray Dill and Matt Malone with Mississippi County Sheriff's Department, Arkansas State Trooper Patrick Salmon, Howard Funeral Service, Manila First Responders, Emerson Ambulance Service, Air Evac, Hospital Wings, Manila school administrators, Farmers Market, students and parents participating, Bobby Ephlin for the sound system, Sheri Gibson and Cindy Nelson for the student's makeup, and guest speakers Colby Newell (second District Drug Task Force); Rev. Matt Pryor, (pastor of the Manila First Baptist Church); Scott Ellington, (prosecuting attorney); and Eric Howell, (survivor of a wreck).
Lt. Camp told the high school students the event is not held to scare them, but to show them death is real.
The scenario was a vehicle of teenagers running into the back of dump truck. From the 911 call to the extrication by the Manila Fire Department, victims being airlifted, arriving of the coroner, and hysterical parents on the scene sent a strong message.
Following the mock wreck held at the Manila park area, students and teachers gathered in the gymnasium where a mock funeral was held for one of the victims in the car crash.
Brother Matt Pryor conducted the services beginning with the reading of the obituary of their classmate.
"I can't answer the questions from families....," Brother Pryor said.
He informed the students death is real and he challenged them to do what is wise. He said he conducts about 30 funerals to every one wedding.
Lt. Camp said if the mock wreck saves one life, it is worth it.
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington talked about drinking and driving. He said he does not condone drinking but he encouraged the young people to never drink and drive.
"If you are tested with only a 0.2 minimum alcohol level, your driver's license will be suspended and if you have a wreck and kill someone you will be sent to prison."
He also talked about the dangers of texting and driving.
He encouraged students to call someone, parents, police, or a friend, to drive them if they have been drinking.
"Don't, don't ever drink and drive," he concluded.
Colby Newell with the Drug Task Force talked about the consequences of DWI.
"Everyone will be caught some time or another," he said.
He also cautioned students against drinking and driving and texting and driving.
"The message can wait," he said. "It is not worth your life."
He also encouraged the young people to take the keys from friends who have been drinking.
"Be safe, have fun, use your brains," he said. "Do not pick up alcohol and drive. Remember you are all under age."
Eric Howell, former police officer, talked about his personal experience of surviving a wreck caused by driver under the influence. Howell and his friend and co-worker were on their way home from work when a driver who had been drinking hit them head on. His friend was killed and he was taken to The Med with serious injuries.
He showed a video encouraging the students not to drink and drive.
Howell talked about how lives are changed.
"The scenario was as close to reality as you can get," Howell said. "I was the person in the car screaming, trying to get out."
He said he woke up five days after the wreck in intensive care.
Howell encouraged the young people not to drink and drive and to stop their friends from getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking.