Seniors and juniors of Prairiland High School got a shocking look at what can happen when you drink and drive Friday morning.
“We try to make these mock scenes as real as possible for these kids,” Brent Cooper of Paris EMS said. “We want them to really understand what happens and how it can change more than just one life, the actions they take when they get behind the wheel intoxicated.”
The scene, staged by students, Prairiland staff, local emergency personnel and other community volunteers, staged a mock wreck between a group of seniors on their way back from prom who collided with a family driving a sport utility vehicle.
The drunk teen driver, played by Allen Elliot, jumped out of the Mustang, trying to make his way to the passenger side where Hannah Brown was speared through the windshield. Alexis Williams and Seth Smith were pinned in the back, unable to get out but calling for help. In the SUV, Brody Dyess wore his baseball uniform in the back seat, while Jason and Sharidie Dyess played his mom and dad. As Jason got out of the vehicle, he screamed for his wife and son in the car.
Elliot cowered down, yelling, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” while Jason grabbed him yelling, “what did you do? My boy, my boy is hurt.”
Carson Bridges and Carsyn Fernandez, friends following behind, pulled up and ran towards the stage.
Sirens then wailed from first responder representatives from Paris EMS, Lamar County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety troopers, a couple of different volunteer fire departments and Roden-Pryor Funeral Home. Many students in crowd front had shock on their faces.
Pam Darden, playing Brown’s mother, screamed after finding out her daughter had died in the wreck, the noise echoing through the parking lot. First responders then used the Jaws of Life to get the actors out of cars.
As responders slowly got those injured out of the vehicles, and Elliott was arrested for drunk driving, they finally moved Brown’s body to the front of the stage. As they laid her down in front of the crowd, some fellow students could not look away as the coroner placed a white sheet over her body. Brown was placed in the hearse. The mock scene ended with the hearse driving away to the sound of somber music.
“There’s no way I could do this without the help from Brent,” Cindy Sessums, Prairiland ISD nurse, said. “Students will go back and talk about this for the rest of the day. It’s very traumatizing and confronting to some just to watch their friends act out a scene.”
Sessums said teachers were on stand by if students required someone to talk to after watching the mock wreck.
“What you guys have seen here today is about as close to reality as what we can show you. We do this at a school every year, and our hope is by showing you, what you just watched, is that maybe, maybe you’ll be the group that’s not in this position,” Paris EMS Bryan Mackey said.
“We have that hope every year, but it seems as though every year, one of the schools, one of the classes, one of the grades, ends up in this situation.”