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Hard lesson to learn for students

LIHU’E — The scream of tortured tire rubber being left on Lala Road was halted by the sickening thud of vehicle bodies making contact.

That sound interrupted classroom work at Kaua’i High School Wednesday as Shattered Dreams, an anti-drinking-and-driving, accident simulation, unfolded before an audience of over 1,300 students.

One person, a student, was pronounced dead at the scene, as she was thrown from the back of a pickup truck that was exiting the school’s access road when it was hit broadside by a compact car that was leaving the school’s parking lot at a high rate of speed.

“We were going to get lunch,” the student passenger in the compact car told Kaua’i Police Department investigators who responded to the scene with sirens screaming through the normally serene school atmosphere.

“We only had a few beers,” the student continued, his head bent as he realized the gravity of the situation that lay before him.

The two cars were surrounded by a sea of students who came to see the source of their classroom interruption, and police officers relied on the services of their current recruit class to help with crowd control as emergency responders from the Kaua’i Fire Department and American Medical Response arrived on the scene.

One student was pronounced dead on the scene, and another would die in the emergency room at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, said Lt. Mark Scribner of the Kaua’i Police Department.

Scribner has been involved in four of the Shattered Dreams programs, three on Kaua’i and one on the Big Island, with the first being at Kapa’a High School four years ago.

Since that first scenario providing a graphic demonstration of the consequences of drinking and driving, Scribner said he’s been involved in the staging of the program on the Big Island.

Two Big Island representatives witnessed the lunchtime program.

The second of Kaua’i’s Shattered Dreams events took place at Waimea High School, with the Wednesday event at Kaua’i High School marking the third time the program was held.

Scribner explained that it takes a great deal of coordination between all of the agencies involved, but the somber look of the students as they watched emergency crews respond to the situation hammered home the gravity of the event, and the consequences of what can happen when drivers drink.

Scribner said Kaua’i was the first in the state to initiate the Shattered Dreams program, and now it’s making its way to the Big Island. He added that Maui officials are supposed to do an event, and on O’ahu, talks are underway to decide which school will host the program.

The two Big Island school representatives were at the Kaua’i High School campus to prepare for their upcoming Shattered Dreams, which will be held in May at Kea’au High School.

The date would bring the message home to coincide with high school graduations as well as the proms, they said.

“No matter how much you prepare, and no matter how much you know what is going to happen, you can’t be prepared for how it’s going to affect you,” said Linda Smith, Kaua’i High School principal. “I hope the students get the message.”

Kaua’i High School has suffered fatalities among its students before, and Smith said the postevent assembly will be tailored according.

Throughout the campus, representatives of the Shattered Dreams program, identified by the black T-shirts emblazoned with “Shattered Dreams,” were readily available to counsel students who witnessed the crash and its ensuing drama.

Darrellyn Lemke, one of the committee members, explained that the scenario doesn’t just end at the high school, as there were other committee representatives at the emergency room, where parents were notified of their children’s status in the accident.

Moana Taa of the Keiki and Child Injury Prevention Coalition was the event coordinator.

As the emergency crews wrapped up their preliminary investigations and tow trucks started hauling away the accident wrecks, Keli’i Morgado, a Kaua’i High School teacher and head football coach, joined Brandon Fujita, the school’s head basketball coach, in checking the campus.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one that has to leave in the hearse,” Morgado told Fujita solemnly.

“It’s chilling,” Fujita said, adding a shiver to his point. “It’s chilling!”

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