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Marshall students get a glimpse of distracted driving consequences

By Bridget Ortigo
April 21, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Chandler Kelehan of Marshall High School is removed from a wrecked vehicle while participating in the Shattered Dreams program Thursday at the Marshall Convention Center. Shattered Dreams is a program that simulates a multi-vehicle wreck caused by distracted or intoxicated driving. See more photos at marshallnewsmessenger.com.

Marshall High School juniors and seniors got a glimpse of what could happen when a driver is distracted during a Shattered Dreams presentation Thursday at Marshall Convention Center.

Marshall firefighters and police helped to create a realistic scene for the students to see what happens when a distracted driver wrecks into another vehicle.

"We were turned over in one vehicle after the driver in another vehicle was texting and hit us," Marshall High School senior theater student Alyssa Sanchez said Thursday. "My passenger died and the passenger in the driver's vehicle was airlifted to a hospital."

Sanchez said police treated the dramatic presentation as a real wreck scene and an ambulance, helicopter, fire truck and coroner all participated.

"The students know it's not real but I think, because of the seriousness of it, it does have some affect on them, to see their friends like that and in that situation," Sanchez said. "It makes it real for them."

Fellow senior and Marshall High School theater student Abigail Herman played the part of the distracted driver on Thursday.

"I would hope that this is effective," she said. "It's so easy to be tempted to look down at your phone while driving to check a text or call. We are so connected to our phones but it really can wait."

City of Marshall Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Pritchard, who also serves as a member of the school health advisory committee at Marshall ISD, said the Shattered Dreams presentation is important to show the almost 600 students present on Thursday what could happen when driving distracted or drunk.

"We do this every other year for the juniors and seniors at Marshall High School and last fall, we got together and decided to do this year's about distracted driving," Pritchard said. "Normally we do these about drinking and driving but we felt distracted driving is the bigger issue now, not that some kids aren't still drinking and driving."

Pritchard said while some minors might drink and drive, almost every student has a phone they check while driving, or they eat while driving, or they make a phone call while driving, or fiddle with music while driving, all of which constitutes distracted driving.

"We want them to understand the dangers of everyday things like this and what could happen," he said.

Harleton High School students are set to participate in a Shattered Dreams presentation from 9 a.m. to noon today. The school's presentation will focus on drug and alcohol use and how it affects driving.

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