Mock wreck at MHS warns teens

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A mock wreck was held at Manila High School on Friday, a week before prom night, in an effort to warn teenagers on the seriousness of making the right choices.

The enactment held at Manila High School warns teen drivers on the importance of making good decisions.

The second annual wreck enactment at MHS was coordinated by Manila Police Officer Todd Emison and Gary Hill.

"A lot of work goes into this," Emison said. "This is something we want the students to take seriously."

Emison praised all of the volunteers who took part and the students and staff for their participation.

MHS Students and other volunteers assisted in the mock wreck.

Participating were Manila Police Department, Manila Fire Department, Leachville Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Mississippi County Sheriff's Department, Emerson Ambulance Service, Medic One Ambulance Service, Pafford Ambulance Service, Manila First Responders, Mark Wheeler, deputy coroner, and Howard Funeral Service.

Guest speakers included Brett Chaffin from Nashville, Tenn., Judge David Burnett, Manila Chief of Police Jackie Hill and JoAnn Gamble.

Students participating included J.J. Helton, Garrett Scott, Landon Spain, Morgan Malone, Lindsey Green, Erica White, Kimberly Angell, Mack Vaughn, Jared Burks, Brooke Warren, and Marshay Everett. Counselor Teresa Thomas was one of the wreck victims.

Parents Billy and Julie Warren and Karen Bruce also participated.

Because of the wind, helicopters were unable to be part of the enactment.

Emison informed the group of a helicopter crash in Tennessee of Hospital Wing #5 killing three crew members. He requested a moment of silence in memory the crew members before the program began.

This year's mock wreck involved two vehicles and a motorcycle. The crash was based on a young driver under the influence of alcohol. There were two fatalities and other serious injuries involved in the scenario.

After the wreck students gathered in the gymnasium to listen to the speakers.

Brett Chaffin is a former area police officer. He reminded the young people that bad things can happen to good people.

"Your parents, all of the police officers, your teachers all want good things for you," Chaffin said.

He asked them what they want to be when they grow up.

"Between our ears, we have everything we need," he said. "You have the talent and the skills to do what you want to do. I encourage you to use what you have between your ears."

Judge David Burnett also spoke to the young people.

"Today you saw a good demonstration," he said. "You saw how long it takes for help to arrive. You saw pain and suffering. It is more prone to be in an accident when drugs or alcohol is involved. You saw parents come to the scene. Would you want to see your parents go through that?"

He encouraged them to think of the consequences of their actions.

"You can destroy your life and other lives by using bad judgment," Judge Burnett said. "Also, be aware when you are sober and sane and know there may be others out there driving under the influence."

Manila Chief of Police Hill also spoke to the students. He shared his personal story of being injured in a wreck over 20 years ago.

"I spent three weeks in the hospital," he said. "I have scars from drinking and driving. I thank God no one was killed. My dad was killed when I was seven years old by a drunk driver. I had a brother killed on a motorcycle.

"I know some of you guys are going through the same things I did," he said. "It will not work. I am not proud of what I did but I will tell it in hopes it will help you. People are killed. These police officers and firemen will jump in to save you, but we all hate to work wrecks. I want you to think about it. Your mind is important. Drugs and alcohol will land you in jail or in the cemetery."

He talked about DWI fines and penalties, along with the new law on driving while on cell phones or texting.

"We want you to make the right decisions," Emison said. "Don't drink when you drive. Every adult here would want you to call them and let us take you home. I'd rather pick you up at someone's house instead of the highway."

JoAnn Gamble was the featured speaker for the event. She started her talk by sharing the last words her 13 year old daughter said to her.

Her daughter, Carla, was killed in 1989 on a three-wheeler when she was hit by a driver who had been drinking. She said she knew the details of the wreck because her daughter's friend who was on the back of the three-wheeler survived the wreck and was able to tell how it happened.

"My daughter never got to go to the eighth grade, she never got to go to the prom, she never got to tell me she loved me again," Gamble said. "When there is a drunk driver, it is not an accident. I want to make it clear, I am not against people having a drink. That is none of my business. But it is everyone's business when they decide to drink and drive."

Emison again thanked all of the guest speakers and participants in the mock wreck.

"We will be doing this again next year," he said. "It takes a lot of work and manpower to put it together, but it is worth it for you. We want you to learn from it and make the right decisions."