Police officers, locals share importance of driving safely
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2016
Tonight, juniors and seniors from Picayune Memorial High School will celebrate prom and the beginning of spring break.
But at the school on Friday, officers with the Picayune Police Department presented a program entitled “Deadly Decisions,” which included topics on distracted driving and deadly decisions.
As students walked into the auditorium they viewed a slideshow which depicted various examples of distracted driving, which include eating, text messaging, putting on makeup, talking on the phone, talking with friends in the car and more.
During the presentation, students had a bird’s eye view of 28 white crosses placed across the stage. Balloons and stuffed animals were placed near many of the crosses.
Picayune Police Department Maj. Chad Dorn said it’s been many years since the department hosted this event.
The first speaker, Becky Carpenter said her older sister, Robin, was killed in 2009 on Texas Flat Road. As Carpenter took the stage, an image of Robin and her mangled car was displayed.
“She was 25 years old and the driver of a gravel truck made a bad decision that morning,” Carpenter said. “He took dozens of medications and smoked marijuana. He hit her car head-on and drug her car more than 50 feet. All he got was a bump on the head. Her body was so damaged that she had to be cremated. The last image I have of my sister is of her mangled body in a funeral home.”
Carpenter described the aunt her children will never know and the cousins who will never be born.
The driver didn’t seek to kill Robin that day, Carpenter told the students, but he made a bad decision.
“She was a beautiful person,” Carpenter said. “Everything we do affects our families, colleagues, friends and first responders. So many people are affected.”
District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller described his careers as an ambulance driver, law enforcement officer and nurse.
Moeller said he’s been at several accidents, extricated victims from cars and treated the severely injured in the emergency room.
“I’ve seen it all,” he said. “And even if you don’t get hurt, your life is ruined. You could go to prison for causing an accident. Then there’s the grief. You have to think about your mother screaming, ‘Take me, not my baby,’ on the floor of the hospital room. Think about the people you are going to leave behind.”
In July 2014, tragedy struck the Moeller family when their 18-year-old son, Jacob, was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Pictures of Jacob and the accident’s aftermath were displayed for the students to reflect upon.
“God gave him two special paramedics to keep him alive long enough so we could talk to him one more time,” Moeller said. “By the time they got him to the hospital, they had to shock him three times.”
The driver of the other vehicle was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Moeller said. He left behind a wife and children, he added.
“Alcohol will kill you and ruin others lives,” Moeller said.
Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage also spoke to students.
“I’ve spoken many times to groups like you,” he said. “I’ve also woken parents at 2 a.m. to tell them, ‘I’m the coroner, there’s been a bad accident and your child didn’t make it.’ I know both of the families here today, I was also their coroner. Make wise choices. Call somebody if you get in a situation.”
Dorn told the students the 28 crosses on stage represent the number of students and young adults killed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in one year.
Dorn then discussed the three ways drivers are distracted. The first is by taking their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and their minds off the road.
“The families that spoke here today, it wasn’t their loved ones’ deadly decision,” Dorn said, “it was someone else’s. Don’t make that decision.”