Shattered Lives


Senior Brianna Zapata

Brianna O'Callaghan, Reporter

Note: Events in the 2020 Shattered Lives car crash were staged by representatives from the Shattered Lives organization. 

Parents lined the caution tape of the accident seeing their sons and daughters, victims of intoxicated driving. Friends called out the names of the ones they knew and stood watching as EMS and police arrived at the scene.

On Thursday, Feb. 6 over 50 juniors and seniors were involved in a staged car crash from intoxicated and distracted driving. Many were pronounced dead on arrival, others at the hospital, including a student life-flight, and few alive students including the two drivers taken to jail. 

“The Montgomery County Police Department and the sheriff’s office department is involved in setting this up,” Associate Principal Clint Holden said. “EMS and first responders are a big part of this program. We’ll actually have ambulances and a helicopter for the life flight that will be out at the crash scene.”

Junior Emma Buikema’s role was to be in critical condition and life-flighted to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Friends and family waited anxiously for news of any recovery. The flat line rang through the hospital room moments later. 

“Just experiencing all the EMS around me, working feverishly to save my life and to know my best friends and family were watching and crying was something I won’t ever forget,” Buikema said. 

20 students were chosen for the car crash scene to show how many teens die per day from distracted and intoxicated driving. Roughly 11 teens die from distracted driving such as  texting while driving, and roughly nine die from driving while intoxicated. 

“We will have a full day of the Grim Reaper walking around picking up children out of the classroom that have been killed,” Holden said. “It’s kind of a reality check for us because we may or may not see a lot of student deaths in this area, but just to know across the nation how many children are passing away is important.” 

Three drivers that were under the influence were chosen for the crash that would be sent to jail. Junior Kaitlyn Laura was intoxicated by marijuana, and senior Ryan Dejournett and junior Eesa Ansari were intoxicated by alcohol. Ansari and his entire car were pronounced dead on the scene

“When I saw my best friend dead in the passenger seat, I couldn’t believe it would have been my fault,” Dejournett said. 

Parents attending the mock crash scene were notified of their child’s situation. The parents were instructed to write their own child’s eulogy that they would give to their child during the assembly on Friday 7th. After two eulogies were read, a guest speaker spoke about his life-threatening crash from driving while exhausted. 

“Seeing your child’s lifeless body and knowing that they died from something that they didn’t was hard,” counselor and mother Mrs. Deal said. “I’ve been here twelve years, and Joshua has been here since 1st grade, so I’ve never been here without him. To think I would have to finish out a year without him, is just incredibly hard.”

After the crash, students involved in Shattered Lives were taken to a church where they listened from two guest speakers: one whose daughter was a victim of drug abuse and another that was the cause of a drunk driving accident. Later, students were read a poem and told to write a letter to their parents as if they had passed away. 

“They put us on an emotional rollercoaster that night,” senior Morgan Yoak said. “As the speakers talked, we couldn’t help but cry and hurt knowing that they were truly hurt by the choices their child or themselves made. They showed how quickly one choice changed the lives of everyone around them, and for those speakers, I am so very thankful, as their stories touched my heart.”


To put into perspective how many teenagers die each day from distracted and intoxicated driving, look around your classrooms. 20 of the students in your class could have died or been injured from accidents like this alone. Below are quotes from students that were involved in the Feb. 6 car crash in Shattered Lives.


Junior Eesa Ansari ~ Driver Under The Influence Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • It was a unique and emotional experience, serving as an important reminder of the dangers of driving under influence, as well as the irrevocable tragedy of its consequences.

Junior Emma Buikema ~ Pronounced Dead at Hospital After Life-Flighted

  • Just experiencing all the EMS around me, working frivolously to save my life and knowing my best friends and family were watching and crying was something I won’t ever forget.

Senior Ava Dawson ~ Cross Holder

  • I learned how valuable life is and that you absolutely cannot take any minute for granted. So I realized that instead of wasting time on things like silly fights with my parents, I would rather spend time loving and cherishing my family.

Senior Josh Deal ~ Pronounced Dead at Hospital

  • Going into Shattered Lives, my biggest worry was that I was gonna start laughing at random points, and I wouldn’t take it as seriously as I should have. But when I heard the sirens, my worry went away, and it clicked that this was actually happening. A few things that I took away were that making it home safely is way more important than sending a text while driving or driving under the influence.

Senior Ryan Dejournett ~ Driver Under The Influence

  • When I saw my best friend dead in the passenger seat, I couldn’t believe it would have been my fault.

Senior Aiden Ellender ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival 

  • Shattered Lives was an unreal experience that opened my eyes to my future choices and situations.

Junior Jereca Geanann ~ Cross Holder

  • Laying there was very surreal as people would talk about you in past tense or as if you were dead. It was almost too real.

Senior Millie Greiner ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • Tomorrow is never promised, and you should never take a day for granted. Shattered Lives was an eye-opening experience for everyone, even if you took it as a joke or you took it seriously. It had an impact on everyone who saw it and especially everyone who participated. If you can, go tell someone you love them and give them a hug.

Junior Sara Landry ~ Cross Holder

  • As I was sitting on the ground of the scene, I heard someone say ‘that’s Sara Landry’. Immediately after I heard my dad’s voice say ‘that’s my daughter’. That is definitely when everything really hit me.

Junior Kaitlyn Lara ~ Driver Under The Influence

  • I would just say even though the crash wasn’t real or anything, it hit home seeing all three people in the car not moving at all, making them and their families suffer all because of one mistake I made. And seeing jail was not a pretty sight. It made me think “what if” and made me realize you can’t take life for granted.

Senior Martha Puckett ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • Shattered Lives was a life changing experience. Yes it was fake but it felt real when they made us write a letter to our parents saying our goodbyes. Shattered Lives changed my life. It made me realize that the choices we make are so important and the result of a bad choice could be death.

Junior Giovanni Rodriguez ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival 

  • Oh man where do I even start? My mother was just so heartbroken. Hearing my mother speak about me at the assembly made everyone cry, not just me. My mother’s speech reached the hearts of everyone there.

Senior Colton Rowe ~ Pronounced Dead at Hospital

  • After all the treatment I was given after the crash, hearing the doctor tell my family that my injuries were incompatible with life really struck a nerve. I hope everyone got to see how easily a stupid decision can snatch any hope right out from under us.

Junior Ashlynn Tapia ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • The experience was surreal. Not being able to see your parents after you hear the police tell them you wouldn’t come home is an experience that will never leave me. This program has shown me that at any time I could lose the chance to show the people around me how much I love them.

Junior Sh’Daria Wiliams ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • It was very surreal. Some people didn’t take it seriously, and I think it is because they don’t think it will happen to anyone in relation to them.

Senior Morgan Yoak ~ Cross Holder

  • They put us on an emotional rollercoaster that night. As the speakers talked, we couldn’t help but cry and hurt knowing that they were truly hurt by the choices their child or themselves made. They showed how quickly one choice changed the lives of everyone around them, and for those speakers I am so very thankful, as their stories touched my heart. 

Senior Brianna Zapata ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

  • Going into shattered lives I wasn’t sure what to expect. When we walked out to the scene and I saw the crash site, I knew it was time to be serious. Seeing the inside of the car full of glass and the seat where I was going to sit smashed in, thoughts ran through my head, like this can actually happen anytime and anywhere. One thing I took from this program is to say I love you to your parents before you leave, because you never know what can happen later.


Others in the Crash:

Senior Bailey Burns ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

Senior John Golden ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival

Senior Payton Hasselgran ~ Cross Holder

Senior Evan O’Donnell ~ Pronounced Dead on Arrival