KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- A 12-year-old girl saw her father's remains in a gruesome photograph shown during a presentation by police warning teenagers about the dangers of drunk driving.
The girl's mother, Marla Cabbage Higginbotham, said her daughter was traumatized by the experience at her middle school last month in which she saw her father lying in a pool of blood with a crushed skull and mutilated face and torso.
She said the family did not know he had been drinking when he died.
An attorney representing the mother and daughter sent a letter to the Knox County law director's office calling for an investigation.
"Why are we showing 12-year-olds mutilated dead bodies when they can't even drive a car for four more years?" attorney Gregory P. Isaacs said Friday. The police "are good people with good intentions who have made a terrible, terrible mistake."
Police officers say the names of the victims about to be shown and ask if any students knew them. They called out the name of William F. Cabbage before showing pictures of the wreck.
The girl did not recognize his name because she knew her father as Lynn Cabbage.
When the officer said the date of the wreck, March 9, 2002, and said it was a tractor-trailer collision, she realized she was looking at her father's body, her mother said.
Higginbotham, who works as a drug awareness educator, said she appreciates the message of the presentations but questioned its delivery.
Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk called the girl's experience "very unfortunate."
"Obviously, we wished it hadn't happened," he said.