“Just call my Mom and Dad. It’ll be OK.” Yorktown High School student Justin Broll made this comment as the Texas Department of Safety Trooper snapped handcuffs on his wrists and informed him he was under arrest for driving while intoxicated.
But Broll faced even bigger problems -- and even more charges -- as fellow student Halle Martin lay motionless under a white sheet, pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Bill Robinson. Another student, Luke Romans, was air-lifted to Cuero Regional Hospital, where he would also be pronounced dead. Two other students, Alexis Longoria and Mason Williams, also received injuries in the crash.
“Halle! Halle!,” Longoria screamed from her position in the driver’s seat in the vehicle she was driving, Martin was sprawled out across the front hood of the vehicle, unable to hear her friend or even respond. “Mom! Dad!” Longoria screamed hysterically, “Help me!”
A few empty beer cans were scattered at the scene, which was soon buzzing with personnel from the Yorktown Police Department, Yorktown EMS, Yorktown Volunteer Fire Department, DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office, and Texas Department of Public Safety. Methodist Air Care also responded.
Meanwhile, the Grim Reaper ( JaydenWebb) and his “Walking Dead” (Heather Gonzales, Trent Deal, Alyssa Banda, Kaleigh Jozwiak, Nadia Pena, Annie Ochoa, Madison Hickman and Grehsen Allman) circled the accident scene in eerie silence, each holding a large white cross, faces painted ghostly white with blackened eyes to make them appear dead.
After failing the field sobriety test and being placed under arrest, Broll was placed in a DPS unit, read his rights, then transported and booked into the Goliad County Jail. A fellow inmate taunted him through the bars while he sat, hazily contemplating his grim fate -- two counts of manslaughter and life in prison. But perhaps the worst punishment for Broll was facing Martin’s angry and distraught mother at the accident scene.
Although this was a mock accident staged on N. Hoppe Street at 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10, the “Shattered Dreams” Program held at Yorktown High School presents a realistic picture of the dangers of drinking and driving. Sponsored by the Yorktown Western Days Association, in cooperation with YHS and local emergency responders, the two-part program featured a mock accident scene on Wednesday morning, and a Memorial Service and assembly on Thursday, May 11, at 9 a.m. in the Yorktown High School auditorium.
The assembly on Thursday began with a playing of a video of the mock accident scene from the day before, with two floral-adorned caskets for Martin and Romans at the front of the auditorium. Photo collages created by members of the Living Dead were also on display. Yorktown Mayor Rene Hernandez signed a proclamation declaring “Shattered Dreams” Program Day.
Pastor Mark Collins of The First Baptist Church -Yorktown presented eulogies for Martin and Romans, emphasizing “the dash” -- the space between birth and death dates. “Justin made a decision that will change his life forever,” he said.
Martin and Romans read letters to their parents, who also read letters to their children. “Just one more day,” Mitch Martin said of spending more time with his daughter Halle, concluding, “We always believe we have more time.”
Offenders from the TDCJ Stevenson Unit in Cuero also addressed the students. Both offenders were in prison with charges of intoxication manslaughter. The first offender, serving a 17-year sentence, said he was traveling south on a northbound lane and had a blood alcohol level of 0.245 when he hit another vehicle head-on, killing the driver instantly. “I can’t press rewind and have a do over,” he said.
DPS Sergeant San Miguel addressed the students on the dangers of drinking and driving -- as well as texting and driving -- pointing out accidents can happen so quickly. “One bad decision comes with consequences,” he said. He also implied that while the mock accident at YHS was a staged event, “It happens for real all too often.”