A drunken driver took the life of Katelyn Morock’s grandfather.
And he almost took hers as well in the same head-on crash.
Morock beat death six times — including three times during a helicopter flight to the University of California Medical Center in Sacramento.
The then 15-year-old was in a coma for 27 days with doctors telling her family that if she lived it would be as a vegetable in a wheelchair.
On Friday, the now 26-year-old Morock spoke to Ripon Christian High students during the E-15 funeral scenario held in the school’s Speech Arts Auditorium.
Morock told the gathering her mother had been urged to let her go and allow the harvesting of her organs for others. After the fifth request by a nurse, her mom said ‘no’ one more time, saying that she was waiting for a sign from her teenage daughter. Within several minutes Katelyn surprisingly sat up in bed and said, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom.”
Her goal as a teen was to become a physician but that was crushed by the collision. Her severe head injury kept her from every returning to cheerleading in high school. Morock now wears a hairpiece. She was told by doctors if she got hit in the head again it could cause brain bleeding to reoccur and kill her.
At first she couldn’t see a need to live in her precarious situation that she saw as a serious handicap and attempted suicide on three separate occasions.
On Friday she broke down in tears when talking to the Ripon Christian students. Many in the audience, parents and students alike, were wiping their eyes as well.
But she said there was a need for her to live her life and try to help others. Morock has now told her story at 10 high school Every 15 Minutes productions before juniors and seniors throughout Northern and Central California.
She is now working as a hair stylist following 11 years of challenges that she has managed to survive and do what she can to prevent others from going through the same heartaches she did.
The second day of the E-15 followed a horrendous staged crash between two vehicles on the school’s rear parking lot with two deaths and major and moderate injuries to the students involved. A bleacher filled with juniors and seniors watched the crash scene unfold and a REACH helicopter air ambulance land on the campus turf to transport one of the students to a trauma center.
The two-hour funeral portion of the E-15 saw speakers being very frank with the students. They included Superior Court Judge Tony Agbayani, Civil Attorney Mirko Kozino, and retired Sheriff’s Lieutenant Chris Stevens.
Judge Agbayani told students he would deal harshly with them if they came before him as 18-year-olds responsible for someone’s death in a drinking and driving crash. Attorney Kozina explained the facts of a civil trial that would follow criminal action against a DUI driver. He said he could easily take millions from them and their parents as being responsible in the loss of life.
The former Sheriff’s lieutenant, Chris Stevens, who has emceed the DUI high school events for the past 20 years, told students how close he was to deaths in his family since he was 5 years old. Those family members involved with crashes caused by DUI drivers were his father, and two different older brothers at different times during his youth.
Two RC parents, Michael Beidelman and Kathy Van Vliet, made their way to the lectern to read letters they had written to their children as if they had died in crashes. It was obvious they were feeling the emotion of the event and did their best to finish those letters before they left the stage.
Two students who read letters they had written to their parents were Lauren Williams and Hannahbeth Magnussen. They shared their thoughts as if they had been killed and wouldn’t see their parents again.
A group of nearly 20 students serving in the production both days and representing the “Living Dead,” included: Abby Buitrago, Amy Kinser, Avery Veilleux, Bryce Van der Maaten, Cynthia Van Vliet, Derek Dottinga, Ethan McMurray, Hannabeth Magnussen, Hannah Lockwood, Lauren Henderson, Lauren Williams, Logan Van Vuren, Lyndsey Van Groningen, Michael Veltkamp, Mishayla Kramer, Ryan Koetsier, Samantha Carvalho, Sarah Tanner, Sarahlee Vandenakker, and Ty Beidleman.
The sound system was provided both days by Greg Wallace of Elite Entertainment of Manteca.
Much of the event was funded by the California Highway Patrol and the State Office of Traffic Safety in Sacramento. Professional video camera work recording both days was provided by Media Fusion of Stockton.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.