Lepanto mom uses her tragedy to educate others

Joanne Gamble Speaks At Last Seminar

MANILA, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 woman has been using her personal experience to educate others on the dangers of drunk driving.

With prom season approaching, many schools will be holding drunk and distracted driving seminars.

Manila High School holds a mock car crash every two years, just before prom season, as a reminder of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.

Deputy Jared Camp with the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department said the mock crash involves students from the school in a staged scene that acts out what really happens in a car crash.

The fire department, state and local police, ambulances and helicopters were all part of the scene Friday.

“This is real, I mean we do a live extrication with the fire departments and that’s what you’d see on an actual accident scene,” said Camp.

Joanne Gamble has been sharing her story with students, prisons, and other groups for over 30 years.

“I think her sharing her story has an effect on everybody, not just the kids but the adults and teachers that are in the audience. I mean anybody that listens to her story I feel it affects them,” said Camp.

Joanne’s daughter, Carla, was killed by a drunk driver in 1987.

“I didn’t want her to be forgotten, I didn’t want her to be a statistic, that she’s just one of those people that was killed by a drunk driver. She meant something, she was mine,” said Gamble

Joanne has been sharing her story since, in hopes of saving others, and keeping Carla’s memory alive.

“I found that when I shared my story it helped me, it helped me sort of deal with the grief. And then every mother wants her child always to be remembered,” said Gamble.

But, Friday afternoon was the last time Joanne would share her story as a public speaker.

“It takes more of a toll on me health wise and physically, and it’s just time. It’s time to say somebody else has a story, somebody else needs to step up and tell their story,” said Gamble.

After 32 years, she’s stepping back from sharing her experience with drunk driving.

“Surely out of all that we’ve done, somebody was touched, or maybe somebody thought of Carla when they were drunk or buzzed,” said Gamble.

Joanne has traveled all across Northeast Arkansas speaking on the dangers of drunk driving, and has left a lasting impression on everyone she’s spoken to over the years.

“Whether she knows it or not, over the years that she’s done this she has actually helped people and may have saved a few lives by telling her story,” said Camp.

At Friday’s drunk driving seminar, Joanne was presented with an award in appreciation of all she’s done for Northeast Arkansas by sharing her story.

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