With the Brownwood High School prom set for Saturday, students received an emotional reminder of the dangers awaiting them if they choose to drink and drive following the festivities.

First responders from the Brownwood Police Department, TexDOT, The Brownwood Fire Department, Heart of Texas EMS, Air Evac and Lifeguard EMS gave high school and middle school students an up-close lesson regarding the dangers of distracted and drunken driving while simulating an accident resulting in the fictitious death of at least one student as part of BHS’ Shattered Dreams program.

“This is our first time to have a Shattered Dreams,” BISD Counselor Sheila Senkirik said. “It’s been something we’ve been talking about for years and were a little nervous about the size of our school. We have other schools in the county that have had a Shattered Dreams program, but obviously we have a lot more students so we got together and decided to have it happen this year.”

This year, BHS students and staff took part in a simulated three-car accident with multiple student performers receiving on-scene medical treatment or being transported by ambulance or life-flight to Brownwood Regional Medical Center.

“I definitely did not think this was what it was going to be like,” BHS junior Heather Williams said. “I knew it was going to be serious, but the minute I crawled out of that car everything just hit me and my emotions went everywhere. It felt real. It felt pretty serious.”

Along with Thursday morning’s accident simulation, throughout the day an individual dressed as the Grim Reaper stalked the halls selecting students to reflect a study by the Texas Department of Transportation, alleging drunk-driving in Texas results in a death or injury every 20 minutes on average. Once selected, the students will have their faces painted white to symbolize their demise then return to class, where they are instructed not to speak. Friday morning students will wrap up the event, held every three years, with an assembly featuring participating students, parents, law enforcement and emergency service personnel analyzing aftermath and the decisions leading to a fictitious fatality.

“We don’t understand the true effects until it happens right in front of you,” Williams said. “I’m really happy we did this, especially before prom, so people know if they decide to drink this can be what happens. This could seriously be something and hopefully they will rethink their decision.

“I’ve always been taught, never drink and drive or never text and drive and sometimes accidents happen like this,” Williams said. “I just wanted to be a part of the group that shows people this is serious. People can die from this.”