AUSTIN (KXAN) - Juniors and seniors at Leander High School held a funeral on Thursday for victims involved in a dramatized car crash.
The crash was staged and no one died. The point was to bury bad choices and teach students the dangers of drinking and driving.
For more than a decade, the school has hosted the "Shattered Dreams" program. Students planned the event and held a fake alcohol-related crash in the campus parking lot on Wednesday.
"The girls behind me they were sobbing they were taken back," said Teisha Hancock, senior class president. "It was their friend that was lying on the ground and so they were really upset from what they saw. "
The teens first watched a video of the kids pretending to have a party. After the movie was over, all the students went to the parking lot and found two cars staged in a head-on-collision. One of their peers, senior Hannah Giamfortone, was laying on the ground covered in blood and glass.
"It was pretty scary with all the blood and everything, I was just trying to remain as calm as possible and play dead," said Giamfortone on KXAN News Today. Paramedics zipped her up in a body bag then she was taken away in a hearse. "It was really freaky to see me get in a body bag. I've learned to really appreciate like all you have in life and your family and your friends and make the right decisions in life. "
Tony Alverez, a junior, played the role of the drunk driver and as part of the skit, was arrested and placed in the back of a squad car.
Williamson County EMS, Leander Police and Fire Departments and a towing company all volunteered their time and equipment to make the situation come to life. The car scene was only the tip of the ice berg when it came to giving students a lesson.
To hammer home the point on not to drink and drive, during the day students would be pulled from class to be the "living dead." They wore a black t-shirt and their faces were painted with white paint to symbolize death and what it would be like if they were truly gone because of an alcohol-related accident.
"A cop showed up and said, ‘Travis Mitchell has been hit by a drunk driver,' and the rest of the day got makeup done had this nasty gash going down my face," said Travis Mitchell, a senior who played one of the living dead. He couldn't talk to anyone all day "It hit very close to home because I'm usually one to talk to people all day I'll fine someone to talk to so not being able to talk to anyone, that hurt."
About 20 students spent the night at Leander High School as part of the programs retreat. Some of them were the "living dead" and the others were the student actors. They explored what could happen when you drink an drive and how you can influence other people not to and learn more about the consequences.
On Thursday juniors and seniors attended their funerals and also heard from their parents, law enforcement, medical personnel. People from the community who have been impacted by underage drinking and drunk driving closed the program.
Shawna Queen, the Leander High School teacher who helped organize everything, said she's had students in the past tell her that the program helped them in alcohol-related situations.
The school says to put on this production it costs about $600. Students help raise the money and time is donated from law enforcement and EMS.
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