If the death of Corner High School cheerleader Mikal Ann Webb wasn’t enough in itself to shake up her classmates, her family is hoping that the sight of her mangled car will.
Webb’s family had her badly-damaged Honda Civic taken to the school on Tuesday, and parked it right next to the school flagpole for all to see.
The windshield is covered by a black and yellow wreath. In the side windows, the family placed signs with a ghosted photo of the slain teenager, overprinted with the words “Slow Down.”
The wreckage was placed at the school so that Webb’s classmates would see the results and ease off the gas pedal.
The impact was not lost on Kaley Bennett, a senior who cheered alongside Mikal Ann Webb and dates Webb’s brother, Nick.
“They made the decision the weekend that it happened to put the car at the school,” Bennett said, “to use it to make a bad situation turn out for the best. They didn’t want this to go in vain.
“I thought it was a good idea to bring it up here. I think it’s a real eye-opener. I think it had an effect because it had slipped our mind that this could happen to anybody, at any time,” Bennett said.
Shelby Sullivan, another senior cheerleader for the Yellow Jackets, said when she saw the car, she remembered her time in the very front seat that was now crushed.
“The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘I once sat in that car. My little sister sat in that car.’ It gave me feeling of, ‘Wow, I didn’t think that could happen to just anybody.’ And it happened to Mikal Ann, the last person we’d have thought of,” Sullivan said.
Peyton Woods, another senior cheerleader, also sat in that same seat in the past. “I really wish it wasn’t out there, but then you have to think that you’re not going to want to go as fast anymore, you’re going to want to slow down,” Woods said.
The display is already having its intended effect, according to Sullivan. “People don’t even want to go the speed limit anymore,” she said.
The loss of Webb is just now sinking in for many of her friends, especially with the sight of the car’s remains.
“I got upset just thinking about it, seeing the car on the [television] news,” Sullivan said. “Then it set in. It’s like she’s gone for a while and she’s going to be back, but then when I think about that she’s not coming back, that’s when it hurts.”
“I feel like she’s just gone for a few days and she could just walk through the door any minute,” Woods said.
Football coach Brent Smith, for whom Nick Webb played — scoring the Jackets’ lone touchdown in their playoff loss at Deshler High in Tuscumbia — said the student body was taking good notice of the car, and what it represents.
“I feel like the parents wanted the kids to understand how severe it is if you drive too fast or text in a car, just to be careful,” Smith said. “Some of the kids got upset by seeing the car, for some of the kids there wasn’t any effect, and for some it opened their eyes to see what could happen.”
Webb’s car went out of control and struck a tree at the intersection of Ingram Road and White Road, not far from the school, early on the morning of Nov. 5. She had left the school moments before, returning from the playoff game with the cheer squad and football team.
Excessive speeds on the curvy, hilly roads in the countryside surrounding the school have caused many mishaps in the past. This was the first in recent times to take the life of a student.
The car was scheduled to remain at the school through Friday.