On Friday, April 3, a major accident was reported at 4th and Cherry Streets in Blanco at the high school football field. Police officers, EMS and the fire department were all called to the scene.
Two vehicles were involved in a head on collision; a gold truck and a dark SUV. Injuries were reported. As hundreds of bystanders looked on, EMS began to furiously work to extract the injured subjects from the vehicles and assess damage. One passenger was seriously injured and Air Life was called. Officers controlled the scene and the fire department was on standby in the event of any fires.
The crews worked fast and efficiently to stabilize all passengers. The bystanders witnessed the gruesome scene unfold. Two of the subjects were pronounced dead on the scene by the Justice of the Peace.
All of the passengers were teenagers from Blanco ISD. Two lost their lives in the wreck and two others were critically injured.
The driver of the gold truck was intoxicated, which caused him to run, head on, into the other vehicle with contained four passengers. The passenger in the truck with the drunk driver was killed instantly; it was the driver’s best friend.
After the wreckage was cleared away, and the injuries treated, funerals were held to remember the victims. Slide shows of their lives were played and their caskets were decorated with beautiful floral sprays. Leading the funeral proceedings was local Young Life director, Steve Mackey.
This tragedy touched the lives of all who were there on Friday to witness it.
The accident, however, was staged. The injured were actors, and the witnesses were the students and faculty of Blanco High School. The emotions were real.
Shattered Dreams, a program sponsored by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, is presented annually to high school students across Texas in an effort to curb underage drinking and drinking and driving.
Blanco ISD holds an enactment once every four years. This year, Garret Shipman and Rachel Calzoncit, both FCCLA students were the organizers. Justin Shipman, Garrett’s brother helped to organize the emergency responders.
The actors were Derek Tesch (drunk driver), Garrett Shipman (student dead on scene), Hillary Tidwell (student dead on scene) , Rachel Calzoncit (student airlifted) , Kyla H. (child passenger), and Mackenzie Ray (passenger). The Blanco Police Department, the Blanco Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department, as well as AirLife and Comal Towing all participated in making the presentation as real as possible. Crofts Funeral Home loaned the group caskets, Blanco Floral provided the sprays for the caskets, and Kim’s Printing blew up Senior pictures as a memorial to the deceased students.
Justin Shipman provided the eulogy for Garrett, and Taylor Holden provided the eulogy for Hillary.
While staged, the accident is so real that it is possible to forget that it is not while it is unfolding. The impact it has is unmistakable.
Unfortunately, each year, scenes just like this one play out with very real injuries, and in the very worst cases, death.
Throughout the day leading up to the wreck scene, the grim reaper (Steve Mackey) collected students from class to represent the fact that every 15 minutes a teenager is taken in accidents caused by drinking and driving. The students were put in a black shirt and had their faces painted white and returned to class.
At the funerals, tombstones were displayed representing the twenty students taken by the grim reaper.
The mission of Shattered Dreams is to bring awareness of what can happen when alcohol and driving mix. The TABC urges all to not drink and drive.