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Program teaches Cuero students dangers of drinking, driving

By Keldy Ortiz
March 7, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 9:08 p.m.

The ambulances, police, DPS and fire department personnel have left and students returned to class to think about the Shattered Dreams program over spring break. TOP, D'nesha Strait, a junior at Cuero High School closes her eyes to shut out the accident scene being played out during Shattered Dreams. "I knew people in there..." referring to the setup scene of several cars involved in a mock fatality vehicle accident

Friday will be the second part of the Shattered Dreams event.

8:30 a.m. - Shattered Dreams participants arrive at high school gym

9 to 10:30 a.m. - Memorial service

CUERO - Abigail Sheppard, 17, watched with tears in her eyes as she saw people injured in a car wreck.

"They are all my best friends," said the Cuero High School senior. "One day they could be here, and tomorrow, they're gone."

But the wreck was just pretend.

Members of the Cuero police and fire departments, as well as the emergency medical service, DeWitt County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety took part in a mock fatal car crash called Shattered Dreams on Thursday.

The event - now in its fifth year - is put on before spring break so students can understand the dangers of drinking and driving.

The final day of the event is Friday as students and parents go through a memorial service for the students who died in the mock drill.

Students from the high school were selected to participate in the mock fatal car wreck. Emergency medical services personnel came to the scene in the high school parking lot.

One student was displayed as having been ejected from the passenger side of the vehicle onto the hood of one of the two cars in the collision.

"It puts an idea in their mind that this could happen if they drink or text and drive," said Sgt. Sam Saunders of the Cuero Police Department. "Youth are stimulated by reality. We're trying to deliver reality before (this) happens."

Saunders said there have been very few fatalities in the area. He said he hopes there will not be any fatal wrecks next week during spring break.

Senior Billy Rodriguez, 17, portrayed the driver of one of the vehicles. He thought being involved in the mock car crash with friends would give him a better perspective of what could happen.

"We were joking around before the event, and then we got in the car. We were worried," he said. "I started to tear up a bit."

The event was so surreal, Billy said, and the fact that his parents participated made it even more impactful.

Cuero High School Principal Michael Cavanaugh wanted this event to have an immediate impact for students. During his eight years as principal, Cavanaugh has had to deal with students who have been either injured or killed in car wrecks.

"We're constantly trying to reinforce these types of instances," he said. "I don't want another memorial bench during graduation. I want to see them walking across the stage."

Abigail is planning to go to Port Aransas with her family. While she will be thinking about Thursday's events, she plans to enjoy as much time with her family as possible.

"Anything can happen," she said.

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