[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
87°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 23
1888 - 8:15 a.m.: Newhall's luxurious Southern Hotel burns to the ground [story]


Photos: LASD

Around lunchtime Thursday, sirens will wail in Canyon Country, a helicopter will land on the football field of Canyon High School and bring first responders to the scene of at least two bloodied, crumpled vehicles. Some students will be taken away in a sheriff’s patrol car, others in ambulances. Some will leave in a Coroner’s van.

Every 15 Minutes – a program that reminds us that someone dies in an alcohol-related or attention-impaired accident every quarter-hour – is a wake-up call for young drivers and their families.

In Canyon Country, it’s as if the snooze button has been pushed, with the program coming quick on the heels of a fatal accident that claimed the life of Dakota Demott and severely injured driver Colt Doherty. Excessive speed was one of the causes of the fatal crash.

The Every 15 Minutes program takes a pre-selected group of students – chosen not because they are problems or challenged, but in the hopes that they will be ambassadors – with the Grim Reaper given the task of taking them from their classrooms, followed by a police officer reading an obituary written by the “victim” parents.

Those students participate in the mock crash at lunch, which is required attendance for juniors and seniors – those who are most likely behind the wheel outside of classtime.

“Those kids get affected 100 percent more than the rest of the student body,” said Deputy David Shoemaker, who coordinates the program at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station. “They get an up-close and personal look.”

Those students are the ones leaving campus in the various vehicles after the crash. They are the ones who go to the hospital, to the morgue, to the courtroom where the offending driver is given a hearing and sentenced. They visit the jail and gather at Eternal Valley mortuary to help pick out a casket.

Shoemaker said that the weight of the casket isn’t the biggest shock.

“One of the things we do is take them into the chapel after they’ve gone through the casket room,” he explained. “One of the huge eye-openers is the funeral directors who remind them about their parents’ planning college careers for however long the family might have been saving. They tell them ‘you were just killed, that $20,000 your parents have been saving is now buying that casket, that headstone and the services. They have no clue what a funeral costs and what it can do to a family budget.

“Then the kids carry a casket out and put it in the hearse. The perspective they get is definitely different.”

Later, the core group of students go to a local hotel with Shoemaker and Sgt. Richard Cohen, who runs the traffic bureau in Santa Clarita. There, a round-robin discussion is held, with public service videos about the consequences of drinking and driving and texting and driving shown.

Shoemaker said that there is one film that, no matter how many times he sees it, still makes him cry.

“Those kids are absolutely bawling,” he said. “Nobody doesn’t let loose in that program, because we hit them so hard. Unfortunately there is no way of doing that with the whole student body.”

Along with the movies, guest speakers share their perspectives with the students. Parents such as Tom and Alice Renolds, who lost their sons Danny and Timmy in an alcohol- and speed-related crash in 2000; Nick and Donna Blair, whose daughter Lauren was a championship softball player at Saugus High before she was killed by a drunk driver as she returned home from a movie night; and Robert and Kelly Arcos, whose daughter, Chelsea, killed two people who were changing a tire on the freeway after she had been drinking and driving without a license.

“They (the Arcos) don’t defend their daughter at all, they talk about how their lives have turned upside down with consequences the kids have never thought of,” Shoemaker said.

Chelsea has been serving an eight-year sentence in a women’s prison in Central California. She is scheduled to complete her sentence soon.

“They talk about how their daughter has been beat up in prison,” he continued. “Now she’s a convicted felon, her mother talks about what her life is going to be, her emotional and mental state, everything you don’t think about.”

“We stand back and let them just keep going,” Shoemaker continued. “We’ve had parents tell us that their kids call them after they see the program and ask them to pick them up from parties or that they don’t want to get into a car with a friend who might have been drinking. The ones that take it the hardest are the girls who listen to the dads tell stories about their daughters. They didn’t want to be that daddy’s girl that was killed by a drunk driver or make that decision to be the drunk driver.”

The problem, Shoemaker and Cohen both say, is that kids are still having the accidents, evidenced by the Sand Canyon crash.

“Either the word’s not being passed on, it’s wearing off or they just don’t want to hear it,” Shoemaker added.

The sheriff’s department, working with the California Highway Patrol, makes the Every 15 Minutes presentation to three schools a year. It was held at Saugus in the fall, Canyon is this week and in the spring, it will be held at Valencia. Next year, the cycle will include Hart, West Ranch (where the CHP will handle it, since the school is in unincorporated area), Golden Valley and Bowman High.

Shoemaker said that the toll on the officers is rough as well, especially making the “death notifications.”

“You know they’re pretend, but they’re still hard. They’re (the parents) breaking down and crying, even though they knew it was coming. You almost want to break down with them – if it’s this hard for them to do this for pretend – how hard would it be if it was 3 in the morning and they didn’t know it was coming?”

They say that the worst call a parent can get is that their child was killed, but running a very close second is the call some parents get – that their child killed someone. Another unenviable position is that of the property owner where the crash – and sometimes death – occurred. There are a whole different set of problems that come with that, not only is the incident horrific, but the feeling continues when memorials are set up by the community left behind.

Ken Fisher comes home from his nightly studio job to a home in Sand Canyon glowing with dozens of candles at the foot of his corner oak tree – the one hit by Doherty a few weeks ago. City workers have cleaned up the corner and removed many of the tributes, but the grief persists – so much so that the Fisher family is having difficulty moving on.

The Fishers, Renolds and the father of a young man lucky enough to survive his injuries in a September crash, Nick Wolitarsky, met with city and sheriff’s officials recently to address the problems of speeding in the canyon.

With raw emotions, John Wolitarsky thanked Ken Fisher for saving his son’s life (Fisher was the first on the scene, with the car landing in his front yard) and joined those asking what could be done. After a discussion of possible traffic barriers and signage, all involved silently – and reluctantly – accepted the answer no one can change but the drivers involved.

Every 15 Minutes will be held Thursday at Canyon High on Thursday. Will the drivers be listening?

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

No Comments

    Leave a Comment


    LOCAL SCHOOL LINKS
    Related Content
    LATEST SCHOOL NEWS
    Monday, Oct 23, 2017
    Bowman Continuation High School science teacher Ravinder Athwal has been nominated for the 2017-2018 National LifeChanger of the Year award.
    Monday, Oct 23, 2017
    Here is the complete agenda for the Sulphur Springs Union School District's regular meeting of the Governing Board on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
    Friday, Oct 20, 2017
    The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
    Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
    Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
    Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
    The Advanced Technology Presentation about "Careers in the Making...Design, Engineering, Fabrication and More..." in celebration of National Manufacturing Day was a huge success.

    Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
    Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a Canyon Country faces enhanced charges in the death of 37 year old Katie Evans. Plus, a special luncheon for families of veterans. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition f SCV NewsBreak.
    SCV NewsBreak for Monday, October 23, 2017
    California State University, Northridge officials have named the building that houses the university’s business college Bookstein Hall, in honor of alumni Harriet and Harvey Bookstein and their generous support of CSUN over the years.
    CSUN Names Business College Building for Harvey and Harriet Bookstein
    Bowman Continuation High School science teacher Ravinder Athwal has been nominated for the 2017-2018 National LifeChanger of the Year award.
    Bowman Science Teacher Nominated National LifeChanger of the Year
    St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Santa Clarita will present "Jazz Vespers: A Celebration of Life, Spirit and Music" in honor of All Saints Day on Sunday, November 5 starting at 7 p.m.
    Nov. 5: Jazz Vespers at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
    A Canyon Country woman faces enhanced charges and increased bail in the death of a mother of a mother of six who was killed in a car crash on Golden Valley Road Oct. 6, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office.
    Cina Faces Enhanced Charges in Death of Katie Evans
    The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has suspended its "Safe Drug Drop-Off" program for unwanted prescription drugs, sharps and narcotics pending reassessment of the program, according to officials.
    SCV Sheriff’s Station Suspends Safe Drug Drop Off Program
    Here is the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station's public safety report for Saugus (Zone 4) for October 9-15, 2017.
    Crime Blotter: Grand Theft Auto, Petty Theft in Saugus
    California's attorney general and a coalition of 16 fellow AG's sent a letter to Congressional leadership Monday urging Congress to reject legislation that would force every state to recognize the concealed firearm carry standards of every other state.
    California AG Urges Congress to Oppose Concealed-Carry Reciprocity
    The Santa Clarita Community College District's Board of Trustees will conduct a joint business meeting with the Associated Student Government at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country Campus on Wednesday, October 25, starting at 3 p.m.
    Oct. 25: COC Board of Trustees, Student Government Meeting
    Here is the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s public safety report for Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) for October 9-15, 2017.
    Crime Blotter: Burglary, Shoplifting in Stevenson Ranch
    Here is the complete agenda for the Sulphur Springs Union School District's regular meeting of the Governing Board on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
    Oct. 25: Sulphur Springs School District Governing Board Meeting
    College of the Canyons freshman golfer Joanna Roecker was named the Western State Conference Female Athlete of the Week for week six (Oct. 1-7, 2017).
    COC Golfer Joanna Roecker Named WSC Female Athlete of the Week
    The College of the Canyons Athletics Department hosted a FUNdamentals Football Camp and "Punt, Pass, Kick" Challenge organized by Special Olympics Southern California and the Los Angeles Rams.
    COC Athletics Hosts FUNdamentals Football Camp with Special Olympics, L.A. Rams
    The Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation arrived at REDCAT with its 2017 festival selections on Saturday.
    Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation Lights Up REDCAT
    The West Hollywood Aesthetics and Politics Lecture Series (WHAP!), co-hosted by CalArts MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics and the city of West Hollywood, opened its fall 2017 series on Friday, and has two more lectures coming up this month and next.
    CalArts Co-Hosts Fall 2017 WHAP! Lecture Series
    The four Democrats running to be California’s next governor vowed to resist the Trump administration, protect the state’s sanctuary status, increase affordable housing and boost jobs and education during their first joint forum Sunday.
    Gubernatorial Hopefuls Mostly Agree on Universal Health Care
    TMU soccer player Brayden Campos is taking a crash course in goalkeeping. Two full games into his new gig, the freshman keeper is settling in just fine.
    TMU Men’s Soccer: Campos Growing Into the Job
    Early in Saturday’s second half, Sarah Stead chipped a short shot over the Jessup keeper’s head and into the goal, and Master’s hung on for a 1-0 win, its first shutout in two weeks.
    TMU Women’s Soccer Team Blanks William Jessup 1-0
    The Golden State Athletic Conference released its preseason coaches poll on Saturday morning, and The Master’s University men’s basketball team was projected to finish first.
    TMU Men’s Basketball Tops GSAC Preseason Coaches Poll
    In cross country, the No. 8-ranked TMU Mustang women finished third and the Mustang men finished fourth at the Warrior Invitational.
    Mikesell Leads TMU Cross Country Through Rehearsal
    Despite several bright spots in the home match, the Mustangs lost 3-1 by scores of 25-27, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-16.
    Mustangs Volleyballers Corralled by Vanguard 3-1
    In some sense, Thursday night’s match at Hope International in Fullerton summed up the Mustangs’ season to this point.
    Hope International Bests Matadors Volleyball
    A car crashed into the bedroom of a home on Wiley Canyon Road Saturday night, but no one was injured or arrested.
    Car Makes Unwanted Visit to Newhall Home
    A woman has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in a stabbing incident in Stevenson Ranch Saturday night.
    Woman Charged in Alleged Stabbing of Friend in Stevenson Ranch
    1888 - 8:15 a.m.: Newhall's luxurious Southern Hotel burns to the ground [story]
    Bobbi Jean and her husband Jim Bell, whose OutWest clothing store and popular TV concert series celebrated all things Western and equestrian and helped revitalize Old Town Newhall over the past decade, will soon ride east into the sunrise: They’re moving to New Mexico.
    OutWest Owners Jim and Bobbi Jean Bell Ride East Into the Sunrise
    1898 - Birth of Mary S. Ruiz, eldest child of Enrique & Rosaria Ruiz of San Francisquito Canyon; all died in 1928 dam disaster [cemetery census]
    2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]
    Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a sexual assault suspect was arrested Thursday night. Plus, some great weekend events. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
    SCV NewsBreak for Friday, October 20, 2017
    Forever Fit SCV, a Santa Clarita sports and personal fitness training company, will host a "Pumpkin Workout" at its Centre Pointe location on Saturday, October 28, starting at 9 a.m.
    Oct. 25: Pumpkin Workout Benefits American Cancer Society
    The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
    Oct. 25: Hart School District Governing Board Meeting
    The LA County Public Defender has won the Silver Eagle Award for its Public Defender Jail Liaison Program during the 31st Annual Productivity and Quality Awards Ceremony on Oct. 18 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
    LA County Public Defender Soars with Silver Eagle Award
    The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a heat alert as high temperatures have been forecast for the Los Angeles Basin on Monday, October 23 through Tuesday, October 24.
    Heat Alert for SCV, L.A. County on Monday, Tuesday
    The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has received three major gifts toward the creation of the museum in Los Angeles, bringing fundraising to more than $300M, nearly 80 percent of its $388M campaign goal.
    Motion Picture Museum Nears $388M Campaign Goal
    Caltrans added nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement repair and 66 bridges to its growing list of projects to be delivered sooner than planned, thanks to the imminent influx of revenue from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), the transportation funding and reform package passed in April.
    Nearly $3.4 Billion in Transportation Projects to Be Accelerated
    The city of Santa Clarita and SCV Veterans Memorial, Inc. invite the public to attend a special ceremony unveiling the new Fallen Warriors Monument at Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall on Wednesday, November 8 starting at 10 a.m.
    Nov. 8: City Unveils Fallen Warriors Monument in Newhall