Austin Davis joined the Beckville Fire Department when he was 16 and helped put on a “Shattered Dreams” program for his fellow students.
Davis told students at first he just thought it was cool to get out of class. Two months later, a student who had just graduated died in a car wreck. Davis, who knew the student, worked the fatal wreck.
“You may think that it won’t happen to you, but it can,” Davis said. “We’re not asking — I have a better chance of punching my way through that wall right there than asking you guys all not to drink or party on prom night, but what we’re asking you to do is be safe.”
The Beckville Volunteer Fire Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Panola County Sheriff’s Office and others took part in a “Shattered Dreams” program at Beckville High School on Monday morning.
“Shattered Dreams” involves a simulated car crash; high school students acting as the victims of the crash; and real police and firemen at the scene, showing what they do at the real life crashes like this.
The simulation involved a two-car crash where one victim was declared dead at the scene, one was removed from a crashed car and taken away in an ambulance and a third person was wheeled out to the actual UT Health East Texas Air 1 helicopter. The student who “caused” the crash was put in handcuffs and into a police car.
After the demonstration, students filed into the high school auditorium to see their classmate lying “dead” on the stage as Hawthorn Funeral Home staff reverently stood behind.
Denise Gray with Panola County Sheriff’s Office took a moment to talk to students about losing her son Austin this past summer. Austin was killed a little more than a month after graduating from Carthage High School when a car ran a red light and hit Austin’s car in Hallsville.
“I’m just trying to open your eyes and you let know that if I do not have to (knock) on another parents’ door to let them know that their child has been in an accident, whether it was your fault or someone else’s fault strictly because they didn’t pay attention, and I can retire two more years, I’ll be happy,” Gray said. “This is all I have left of my son, his ashes in this necklace. I wear I everyday. I kiss it every night. I have a box in my house that has my child in it. So if you wanna make fun everything that went on down there, take it from me. You do not want to live the life that I have. Okay? Go home and hug your parents, hug your siblings and make every day count.”
Davis told the students everyone just wanted them to stay safe.
“There’s everybody out there today who’s volunteering their time to show you all, and a lot of work went into this to show you all that drinking and driving, distracted driving, all of that, it can happen to you,” Davis said. “As long you take that one time that you look down at your phone, it can happen. We’re just asking you guys (to) be careful. That’s all that we want — is you guys to be safe.
“Because I know none of us ever want to come and cut one of you out and see the terror on your parents’ face as they walk up and have to identify you. The way that it hit that family, from that classmate, the way that it hit the entire community was just heartbreaking,” he said. “All we really want is just to keep you guys safe. So don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive. I know that’s asking a lot, I know that’s saying a lot, and I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now, but just be careful.”