The dead can cry.
Some hand in hand, some gathered together in bands, many of the specters wept as they gathered to watch the loss of innocent lives in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident.
“Oh my god,” one McAlester High School student remarked. “This is unbelievable. I think I may get sick.”
In reality, the dead were alive and the accident was fake. Select students were removed from class every 15 minutes to simulate those killed or injured in alcohol related accidents. Their faces were then painted white. The living dead gathered with McAlester police Capt. Gary Wansick, who played the Grim Reaper, to watch the simulated accident.
Other students were made up as victims of the wreck.
But these facts didn’t detract from the Shattered Dreams drunk driving awareness program held at McAlester High School on Thursday.
“It’s crazy,” MHS student Logan Sorrels said as she looked on. “It makes me sad because this can really happen. It’s weird. I don’t think people realize this is reality.”
The accident seemed very real, down to the blood and severed limbs. But in reality, it was set up in the MHS parking lot by the McAlester Police Department and the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s department.
Gore was provided by Marilyn Turvey’s health careers class at Kiamichi Technology Center.
The scene simulated the aftermath of a head–on fatality collision. Students played the roles of the dead and injured as police, firefighters, ambulances and even hearses arrived on the scene. An emergency helicopter was dispatched as well.
MHS student Chessie Miller played the victim killed in the crash. Before the accident, she spoke about the program.
“I participate because I know if it doesn’t affect a lot of people it will at least affect one,” Miller said.
After many attempts at resuscitation, Miller was pronounced dead at the scene. She was taken to Mills Funeral Home, where her parent’s came to identify her body. As stage blood trickled down her face, Miller said she was concerned about the effect of the exercise on her parents — even though they know it’s all just an act.
“I don’t want to hurt them,” Miller said. “But at the same time, they know it’s a lesson not only for me, but for my classmates.”
Courtney Cuzalina played the role of the drunk driver who escaped with only minor injuries. After causing three simulated deaths, Cuzalina was taken to the city jail for an hour.
“It really let’s me see the consequences of drinking and driving,” Cuzalina said. “It creeps me out. It really could happen. It makes you think a lot.
“This is what could really happen.”
Obituaries for the living dead and accident victims were posted all over the school. MHS sophomore Courtnee King stood near a casket on display next to the school cafeteria. She stared at one of the posters of her classmates with glazed eyes.
“It makes me really sad,” King said. “I wish it couldn’t happen, or we could go back to before it happened. The sorrow is real. You see how it takes place and how it makes people feel.”
There were many tears shed at the school that day. MHS Principal Allen Wadsworth said that means the program did it’s job.
“It was great,” Wadworth said. “I hope they think before they drink and drive. That’s our main concern. A tremendous amount of work went into this and everyone did a terrific job.”
After the event, the simulated dead stayed overnight at the First Baptist Church in McAlester. Officials said this was so both students and parents could somewhat feel the pain of loss.
The exercise culminated with a public assembly at 8:20 a.m. Friday at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium. Those in attendance heard letters from simulated victims to their parents detailing what they wish they could have told them before their untimely demise. Parents also prepared letters to their children which were also read.
“We read 11 letters,” Campus police officer Brenda Fields said. “It was very moving and really, really emotional.”
Shattered Dreams was coordinated through various local law enforcement agencies, counseling agencies and schools.
The dead can cry.