Shattered Dreams teaches dangers of drunk driving

The grim reaper stood over the body of senior Hannah Bergstrom during the program.

Genell McClendon

The grim reaper stood over the body of senior Hannah Bergstrom during the program.

Arnold Angelo Aureo, Staff Writer

“You only live once, right?”

Those are the words that senior Hannah Bergstrom said moments before she died from a car crash that involved alcohol.

The crash happened in the school parking lot, and the senior class witnessed the aftermath as the injured and unconscious victims were loaded into ambulances, a medical helicopter and a hearse from a local funeral home. Seniors watched as the drunk driver was given a field sobriety test and then handcuffed and taken away by the police.

Fortunately, the crash was only a dramatization for the first day of the Shattered Dreams program, a two-day event aimed at reminding students to make smart decisions regarding underage drinking and driving.

For the second day of the program, seniors gathered in the auditorium to watch a video showing the drunk driver being booked into jail, the injured students being assessed in the emergency room and Bergstom’s parents making funeral arrangements. The live portion of the program featured Bergstrom’s funeral and speakers who had actually experienced a loss due to drunk driving.

To make the program as realistic as possible, two crashed vehicles were towed in and placed at the entrance to the student parking lot. Actors from Mustang Theatre were all cast to play roles in the dramatization, and tech theatre students created the realistic injury makeup.

Sophomore Madyson Palczynsky was one of the tech crew members who created the bruises and bleeding wounds for the injured.

“We had a whole assignment on researching crash injuries,” Palczynsky said. “We had to look up images online and practice on ourselves before we got to do it on another person.”

The drunk driver who was responsible for the whole accident, was played by senior Isaac Ramos. After a police officer administered a field sobriety test on Ramos, he was cuffed, placed in the back of the patrol car and transported away from the scene.

“I am glad that I experienced it–and not in a hard way,” Ramos said.

Prior to the event, Ramos was filmed showing what happens when someone is arrested–being searched, questioned, fingerprinted and then finally locked in a jail cell.

“The prison felt very, very grim and sad,” Ramos said. “I highly advise everyone to follow the law. I was able to talk to some of the police, and even they don’t like the jail.”

Senior Emma Patton played as one of the innocent injured victims. Her injuries were so severe that she was loaded onto the medical helicopter and taken from the scene.

She was also filmed prior to the event to show what happens when the severely injured are taken to the emergency room. Her parents were also involved in the film showing how loved ones respond to such injuries.

“I talked to some of the nurses, and they said it feels very sad to see all the pain that could have been avoided,” Patton said.

She said that her participation in the program is a learning experience.

“Not only do you have to think about yourself,” Patton said. “But you also need to think about other people around you.”

Senior Michael Dinh was among the many seniors who saw the event. He said the realism of the dramatization taught him a lot, but it was the speakers’ testimonies that truly made an impact.

“The speakers almost brought me to tears,” Dinh said. “It made me aware of how fragile life is. I learned that I need to be more careful as my life affects my family and my friends.”

Student activities director Lauren Ellis said Shattered Dreams is a national program, and this is the first time it has been presented at SHS. She said the school administration was approached by Deputy Chief of Operations Lee Richardson of the Sachse Fire Department regarding partnering in the program. Planning for Shattered Dreams started in October 2021.

“This program made a lot of students uncomfortable–which was our goal,” Ellis said. “Drinking and driving can have far reaching consequences, not only to drivers and passengers, but also to all families involved.”

The entire two-day event may be viewed on YouTube at: Garland ISD: Shattered Dreams