New GJ Staff Members Share Their Wildest Stories from 2022

L. Canady

Family of Four Stranded at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

by Lorelai Canady

The Canady family had a near-death experience on a dirt bike trail in the middle of nowhere. On May 28th of 2022, Lorelai Canady, Amanda Canady, Matt Canady, and Bettye Elmendorf took a vacation to Arizona for Spring Break. On the second day of their adventure-filled trip, they decided to take a four-by-four into the depths of Arizona and Grand Canyon Territory. 

Lorelai, a survivor of this “traumatic” event stated, “It was fun at first. We were cruising and hopping over bumps and having fun. But then my dad got carried away and started speeding around the bushes. At one point we were so close to the edge of the mountain I could’ve flown off.” The Canady family aimlessly raced around the corners until they were forced to stop, wilderness and hedges trapping them on a motorbike trail that Matt said “was less than a foot wide.” Bettye said, “We were stuck for what felt like an eternity.” [Editor’s note: they were stuck for around an hour and a half.] Their position was in between a bushy and potentially “life-threatening poisonous area.” The Canadys didn’t call for help, although they said they had good reasoning. Amanda said, “It was two hundred dollars every minute it took the rescuers to find you.” The Canadys saw snakes, racoons, and even wild horses that could’ve ended that adventure sooner than expected, though all four of the passengers survived. Matt, the driver of the vehicle, was sincerely sorry to the passengers even though he did get them unstuck from the unforgettable day. Since that day the frightened four have not set foot in Arizona; nor put themselves on a trail they aren’t familiar with.


H. Drafahl

Teenage Girls Wonders If She will Ever Escape the Sonic Parking Lot

by Hailey Drafahl

On August 27, 2022 at approximately 4:30 p.m. a teenage girl named Hailey Drafahl reported that she was stuck in a Sonic parking spot. This tragic event changed her life. This is her story.

“It started off like any other normal evening” Drafahl recalled. “I never knew something like this could happen to me.” She decided to hang out with her friends on this nice summer day. Since she was craving some ice cream, she and her friends landed on Sonic for a nice place to go. She arrived and began looking for the perfect parking spot. She had almost zero options since most of the spots were out of order. She eventually decided to park in front of a trash can, the perfect spot. She could immediately tell her car was far too big when pulling into the parking spot. There was nothing she could do now. She was too deep in. She and her friends used the app feature to order, meaning they had to wait for each other to come out one at a time taking almost an hour. This prolonged the doom she knew she would endure. After everyone got their food and finished eating, they decided to leave the premises. Except they couldn’t.

Drafahl tried multiple times to turn her car in just the right way to get out without tearing off her side mirrors. It was impossible. The girls decided to call for help. They called everyone they knew and finally got someone who was willing to face this challenge. Drafahl met her friend’s dad for the first time. He now knows her as “the worst driver he has ever met.” He began trying all sorts of methods to pull out the car. He also realized how impossible this job was, even for the best. This was a four person job. One person pulled the sonic sign as far back as possible. The other person on the other side of the sign pulled it. One person directed which ways to turn the wheels. And the most important job . . . The driver. After hours of hard work from all parties, they finally escaped this parking spot. Drafahl vowed “would never go back to this sonic,” and this has stayed true ever since this day. She became a changed woman.

Here are what some people have to say about this event. “I thought we would DIE in that sonic parking lot,” Drafahl’s friend Brooklynn Henson stated. Drafahl said, “You never think it would be you. Life is too short to waste.” 


E. Grant

Student Almost Dies on Dangerous Roller Coaster

by Emalee Grant

Emalee Grant barely survived last year after riding a roller coaster at a carnival at the Georgia Tracks with her friend August.

Grant was on The Fireball when her seat belt got really loose. While she was going upside down, she noticed her seat belt was loose, and every time she went upside down, her seatbelt got looser. She felt as if she was going to fall to her death, but she held on to her seat until the ride finally stopped. Grant said, “I’ll never go on that ride ever again.”

What made this situation worse was her friends talking about people dying on a roller coaster while she was on the ride that almost killed her. Afterwards, the ride her friend wanted to go on was a roller coaster that would launch you in the air and spin you upside down. Grant was already scared because of The Fireball. When she tried to get on the ride her seat belt wouldn’t latch, so she panicked and ran off the ride immediately. All of this made her even more scared of rollercoasters than before.

The “Happiest Place on Earth” Turns into the Scariest

by Brooklynn Henson

Brooklynn Henson and her best friend Kinsley report that Disney World is not the happiest place on Earth.  They were at a big cheer competition at Disney World in the summer of 2022. They were going to different parks traveling by Disney’s bus transportation. The bus transportation was crowded and  slow. One day of their 5-day adventure they had practice at Coronado Spring Resort. At night they began to travel to the hotel–or so they thought. “Is this the right bus to get to the resort?” Brooklynn questioned. “I don’t know, this bus is very empty for a Saturday night,” Kinsley explained. They traveled on this bus that was oddly empty for a Saturday night. When they got to the “hotel,” they were at a mysterious unknown place they had never been before. It was dark, no people were around, and no street lights or lights were to be seen. They walked down this long, dark, and scary path that led to nowhere. They turned around and went back, but could not find the bus stop that they were originally dropped off at. Soon their scary adventure came to an end when Brooklynn’s parents located her from her phone. They never did find out where that long scary path went, or if there was an end. 



T. Johnson

Teen Girl Saves Drowning Boy at the The Wilderness

by Tru Johnson

On April 7th, 2022,  a teen girl saw something she never expected to. Five girls wandered around The Wilderness in Pigeon Forge for a little while before they decided to try out the wave pool. As they entered farther into the wave pool, teen Tru Johnson was faced with a little boy drowning right in front of her. 

As Johnson and her friends–Maddie Carlyle,  Addy Kissner,  Emma Watson, and Ella-Grace Tucker–made their way into their stay at The Wilderness, they decided to go to the waterpark. Johnson and the girls switched between the rides and wavepool at first,  only going back when the waves really started going. During one of the minutes where the waves were super intense, they adventured into the deeper part of the pool, the six-foot area. 

The girls looked around in the crowded pool for an open spot where all of them could fit. They traveled from one side of the pool over and over again until they found it, right in the middle. Around 5 minutes into the pool, Johnson felt a tug on her hair. “I was already annoyed by how much we were moving, and when I felt someone pull my hair I was so shocked and a little upset that my head was being yanked back,” Johnson admitted. She turned around to see a little boy bobbing up and down in the water; she immediately felt guilty for being mad when she realized the little boy was struggling to get air. From seeing the people around her not notice anything wrong, she took action as her sense of being a lifeguard kicked in. 

She looked over to the little boy and picked him up, letting the little boy catch his breath. Her spot wasn’t too far away from the shallow end and life jackets, so she began her way over making sure the boy would stay up and be able to get air. 

 When she arrived over at the shallow end, she sat the little boy down and made sure he went and put a life jacket on. “I was so glad that girl was standing so close. I don’t know how it would’ve ended if she didn’t help me,” said the boy. He made his way over to his mother while Tru headed back to her group of friends that were staring curiously at her.  “I think that little boy was just drowning, oh my gosh,” Tru told her friends. They continued to jump waves and have a good time as normal, but this once-in-a-lifetime memory stayed in the back of Tru’s mind forever.


Heritage Student Almost Dies in Encounter with Dolphins

by Thomas Scherzer

T. Scherzer

 It was 2022, the summer time: the most relaxing time for a lot of people. Thomas Scherzer thought the same too. Scherzer, a 14-year-old boy from Ringgold, Georgia, was excited to get to go to the beach alongside his mother and father. Little did he know, Scherzer’s time at the Florida ocean would be interrupted by some vicious dolphins.

He went alongside his mother and father. Scherzer had never been to the ocean other than once, let alone saw dolphins while there: he considered himself more of a mountain, ground-type person. Despite this, he was still extremely excited and wanted to actually do more activities and have more fun since the last time Scherzer went he was too scared to enter the water for more than five minutes. Also, Scherzer, if you couldn’t tell, has a fear of the water, especially of sharks–but dolphins may now fit into that category. Now to give some context of just why Scherzer hates the ocean so much, he stated, “First because there are most definitely megalodons that still do exist and so why would I take a chance?” Additionally, “I don’t know what’s been in that water, and I’m like literally a fish out of water just flipped when I get into the ocean; I can swim, just not fast enough to escape a barbaric dolphin.”

When Scherzer entered Florida and made it to the beach, it was the second day of his “vacation” to the beach. So when he eventually got into the ocean, since he was only going to be there for one day as they had more to do, he  decided to get the full experience and throw away his fear. After a while, he was really getting into it and enjoying himself. But as Scherzer was quite a far distance away from the shore, probably at least 10-15 minutes out, there were very few people out there with him. So when out of nowhere, fins began to appear out of the water, immediately he automatically assumed that they were sharks and that his time was up. Then even even more rose up: Scherzer counted roughly 6, but in the chaos of the event it was difficult for him to see. Everyone around him began to swim back, but even they knew it was too late for Scherzer: he was truly in danger. When the dolphins approached him, they began to swarm and circle him; that’s when he realized that instead of being sharks, they were dolphins! They jumped out of the water ferociously with the utmost objective of trying to kill Scherzer. Eventually, once their ruthless attack on him was over and they had realized he wasn’t phased, Scherzer escaped and made it back to the shore to tell the tale. With onlookers amazed and pedestrians taking video and such of the dolphins, Scherzer survived an onslaught by dolphins. To this day, he lives to tell the tale of how he was attacked by these bloodthirsty, monstrous creatures and why he and so many others simply refuse to like the ocean.

P. Scott

Student Bombarded with Birthday Texts–But Not on their Birthday

by Parker Scott

Parker Scott, a 14-year-old freshman at Heritage High School, was left bewildered when her birthday was announced on the school’s morning announcements, because it wasn’t her birthday. She thought she might’ve heard the announcements wrong, but her friends confirmed that it was definitely her name. It would’ve been completely normal, except her birthday was in May, not December.

Scott then got birthday texts from close to 15 people, even people she thought knew her birthday was in May. Her friend Eli Nelson, a senior at Heritage High School texted her saying, “Happy Birthday! Oh my god, I didn’t know it was your birthday.” “Confused” was an understatement for her. It then finally clicked in her mind: there was another Parker Scott.

Scott walked into her next class, Band, knowing people would say something but didn’t expect almost everyone to. Her classmates started playing the birthday song on their instruments and everyone was saying happy birthday left and right. Even people in her section, who knew it wasn’t her birthday, were making fun of her. Sophomore James McPheters said, “I know it’s not your birthday, but I’m going to celebrate anyway.” Mr. Wynn joined in too, saying “Not-your-birthday Parker” every time he referred to her. She was annoyed but knew that they were just joking.

Throughout the day, every time someone mentioned her birthday, Scott had to explain the whole situation, which was even funnier because she knew the other Parker Scott very well, having gone to elementary school with him at Gordon Lee. She saw him in the hallway and wished him a happy birthday, and he said it too.

To this day, her friends still make fun of her by saying her birthday is December 12.


A. Stafford

Manic Pumpkin Slices Girl’s Finger Off

by Addie Kate Stafford

Addie Kate Stafford, a 14-year-old girl, entered a pumpkin carving contest this past Halloween, expecting to come out with the best carvings but instead faced with a terrible incident. Her finger split open on one of the blades while she tried to carve her perfect pumpkin. 

On October 31st, also known as Halloween, Stafford and her two friends, Lily Marshall and Tru Johnson, decided to go to a Halloween party. They were filled with excitement for the party. They spent the whole day dreaming of their perfect night consisting of filling their faces with candy, and getting scared off their feet. After spending all month working on her costume, Addie Kate had finally come to a finish on her Carrie costume.  Her costume included a long pink dress with a small crown on her head. To finish off the costume, she had her friend Lily drip down fake blood down her head. Little did she know that it was soon to be real.

The girls all arrived at the house and greeted everyone. The horror quickly begin when they all gathered around in a circle as pumpkins were placed in front of them and knives were in everyone’s hand. Everyone held their knives with pride, staring down at the pumpkins. By the time they came to give Stafford her knife, they were out. They quickly ran into the house, leaving her in confusion. The adults came back out with a blade in their hand. Stafford gazed at them with terror. 

They yelled start and everyone raced to grab their knife and begin their carving. Stafford took the handle-less blade and gently tried to carve the pumpkin, but it wouldn’t go through. She began to grow tired of trying to poke into her pumpkin while being careful. She knew she was losing, so she had to do something fast. “I began to feel the win slowly slip out of my hands, as everyone else was almost done, and I hadn’t even started,” Stafford said. She quickly shoved the blade into the pumpkin hard. She instantly felt regret when she picked her hand up and saw oozing, fresh blood that covered her hand. She took a closer look to see the deep slice in her finger. She quickly yelped, “My finger!” 

One of the kids there, Tate Smith, quickly came to Stafford’s rescue. He searched the finger and grabbed his life-saving medical supplies. “I was in shock at how my loose finger disconnected from my body. I wouldn’t know what I would have done without his help,” Stafford said. As he wrapped the weak finger in cloth, Addie eyed the evil pumpkin who seemed to wish this terror upon her.