DUI Deaths Up Close And Personal For Students
Canyon High experiences “Every 15 Minutes.”
Wednesday afternoon, juniors and seniors at Canyon High School got a dose of mortality as they witnessed the horror of a DUI fatality accident. The accident itself was a simulation, but the emotional impact is designed to be hard hitting.
It’s the Every 15 Minutes program, put on by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and LA County Fire. The program brings in wrecked vehicles from Wolf’s Towing, and arranges them to stage a vicious accident. Inside the vehicles, five students are posed after undergoing elaborate makeup to make it appear as if they’ve been injured.
Students then file outside and see their classmates hanging in (and out) of the cars. Waiting fire trucks and an ambulance rush to the scene on cue and transport the victims, while deputies arrest the cause of the accident, who is a student pretending to be a driver under the influence.
The whole scene is meant to give students an up close and personal look into the incident, and hopefully make them think twice about driving drunk or driving recklessly.
“As the accident scene stages it turns very somber when the kids actually see their friend in the car,” said Deputy Mike Lorenzi, an organizer of the program.
While the scene has a big impact on the many students watching, it has an even greater impact on the students taking part.
The role playing victims are really transported to the hospital, and the driver to jail. They meet up later at the SCV Youth Grove for a speech by Councilmember Frank Ferry, and then, it’s off to Eternal Valley, where they see the process of picking out a coffin.
Other students at Canyon also get involved. Every 15 minutes, one student is called out of class and becomes one of the “Walking Dead.” Their parents are then informed by a deputy that their child has been killed in an auto accident. Of course, the parents have been warned ahead of time of the simulation, but it is nonetheless very moving.
The whole program culminates with an assembly at Canyon High on Friday where Mayor ProTem Bob Kellar will speak, along with speakers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Deputies Shoemaker and Lorenzi give direction to a student role player.
Students play dead and injured (above and below).
The "Walking Dead."
Emergency personnel wait for their cue to respond to the mock accident.