The bells had just started ringing when a DPS Trooper, a Grim Reaper and a medic walked into a classroom at the New Caney High School and announced that a classmate in that class was dead. Moments later in another part of the school it was repeated again, this time in the band hall whereas officials led the student out after reading his obituary a fellow classmate played Taps on an electric guitar.
In the meantime, Porter Fire Department, LaBuff Towing, Montgomery County EMS, and other officials prepared a crash scene with mass casualties in the parking lot. One pickup rolled over, four dead. Other vehicles severely damaged with students with injuries that looked real moaned in pain on the ground.
At 8:25a.m. Montgomery County EMS dispatched a major accident with multiple vehicles at the New Caney High School. Sheriff’s Deputies on motorcycles leading the way with lights and sirens as they entered the parking lot.
Students were brought out of their classrooms to watch the event, “Shattered Lives”, the program, five years old this week, is designed to stress the consequences of poor decision making by having students create their own scenario regarding their death. The design of the program heavily involved the parents. The program is designed to impress upon teenagers that death is very real for persons their age and that they are not immortal.
Medics flooded the scene checking on victims, covering many who were already dead. Firefighters prepared their equipment to start rescue operations. DPS Troopers took a young driver into custody after she failed the field sobriety test. Sheriff’s deputies assisted funeral directors to load victims in body bags as Justice of the Peace James Mett’s pronounced time of death on victims and ordered them taken in for an autopsy.
Firefighters continued cutting roofs off cars, removing victims and loading them in ambulances. As they were loading, other medics were starting IV’s and performing CPR on other seriously injured victims. The first ambulances pulled out heading for Kingwood Hospital. DPS Troopers walked teary-eyed and sometimes very emotional parents of the deceased victims onto the scene to identify their loved one.
Due to heavy fog air medical units were unable to respond.
Once the scene cleared the grim reapers continued to go to classrooms removing students and taking them to the auditorium,
Each student’s parent that participated was asked to write their child’s obituary which was read as the students were pulled.
This comes at a time just before Spring Break and the day before the Montgomery County District Attorney and local law enforcement start the zero-tolerance weekend.
The program continues into Friday when a video of the scene will be shown to the student body. The video shot by five videograpehrs from Quanah Productions in Conroe was a production of its own. Gary Parker of Quanah Productions compiles the video of all five cameras and produces the completed video. This all done in less than 24 hours.
The two days of the program are set up almost like a script. Every 15 minutes a designated student is removed from class by the Grim Reaper. These students will be put into costumes and makeup to represent the “Living Dead” *A law enforcement officer will read a mock obituary to the class when the student is temporarily removed from class. During a special outside assembly, a staged fatal DWI traffic collision will occur on campus. Law enforcement, Fire, and EMS units will be involved. The “Living Dead” students will be returned to class in full makeup but will not be allowed to speak or take part in any school activity for the remainder of the day. If desired, the parents of the “Living Dead” students will receive a pre-arranged mock verbal death notice by law enforcement. At the end of the day, the “Living Dead” students will be taken to a retreat with overnight lodging to effectively simulate that the student is “gone.” The students will be under the direct supervision of members of Law Enforcement, Probation, and the “Shattered Lives” committee.
On the second day, After a light breakfast at the retreat area, the students will be transported back to school for the assembly. The “Living Dead” students will NOT be able to have contact with friends or family prior to the assembly. The video made of the previous day will be shown. Various Guest Speakers will give presentations to the entire student body about their views and personal experiences. The “Living Dead” will present their scenario to the assembly. The last and most important visual focus of the program will be when everyone who has been touched by an alcohol-related traffic collision comes forward and stands on the stage indicating the many innocent people who stand as victims— those who pulled bodies from the wreckage, who provided emergency trauma care to victims, who counseled survivors, who dealt with the grief and pain of relatives and friends.