By BRAD KELLAR
Pud Kearns addressed the students of Greenville High School who filled the school’s gymnasium Wednesday morning, letting them know the Shattered Dreams program not only was designed to show them the immediate consequences of what might happen if they chose to drink and drive — causing a deadly crash — but what can occur after.
“Yesterday you witnessed difficult things,” Kearns said at the start of the memorial ceremony, referring to the mock crash set up outside of the high school Tuesday afternoon. “Today you will feel what it is like to lose someone you know, maybe someone you love.”
Kearns, who helped organize Shattered Dreams as part of DrugFree Greenville, said more than 400 people had volunteered to conduct the three day event.
“Why? To save lives, maybe yours,” Kearns said. “Please live your dreams. Don’t let drinking and driving shatter your dreams.”
Jimmy Vaughn, pastor of Authentic Life Fellowship in Greenville, presided over the ceremony, which began with students bringing in two caskets and an urn, representing the three students who were “killed” in Tuesday’s crash.
The “Living Dead” students — who represented the individuals killed every 15 minutes in accidents involving drinking or drugs — were brought back into the gym, after spending the night away from their parents.
Those attending the memorial watched a video of the day’s first events; which included a dramatization of the fatal crash and the calls placed to the Greenville Police Department 911 dispatch, as well as the arrest of the two individuals charged in connection with the accident.
Vaughn then told the audience a story, about a woman, Lorraine, a widow who made a bad decision. She left a country club one day after having had too much to drink.
She chose to drive home anyway with her son in the front seat. She drove the wrong way, with her vehicle crashing head-on into a pickup truck.
“I was Lorraine’s son,” Vaughn said. “I was seated next to her when those two cars collided.”
Vaughn said he still vividly remembers the sounds and smells of the accident scene, including what he experienced as he faded in and out of consciousness.
“I heard what I hope you will never have to hear,” he said. “It’s that moment when the last breath of life leaves the human body. In that moment I became an orphan.”
Vaughn said he was unable to attend his mother’s funeral, as he was inside a hospital room, where he would spend the next six weeks in traction, followed by another six weeks in a full body cast. Then there were the weeks and months learning to stand and walk again.
“I’m in pain right now from the injuries that occurred when dreams were shattered,” Vaughn said.
He went on to graduate high school and college and to earn a doctorate degree. Vaughn said his daughter will be getting married in two weeks, but his mother won’t be there.
“Because shattered dreams never get back to normal,” Vaughn said. “One bad decision can shatter the dreams of everyone in your life.”
Toward the close of the assembly, Vaughn again stressed how there are no “second chances” or “do overs” for the bad decisions which are made in real life.
“But we have the privilege of bringing the dead back to life,” Vaughn said, as the three students who portrayed the fatalities in Tuesday’s mock crash entered the gymnasium, for a tearful reunion with their families.
The Shattered Dreams program concludes at 7 p.m. tonight, with a mock trial of the two students arrested in connection with the crash, inside the 354th District Courtroom in the Hunt County Courthouse.