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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
60°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 22
1839 - Gov. Juan B. Alvarado gives most of SCV to Mexican Army Lt. Antonio del Valle. [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
    Friday, Jan 19, 2018
    Oak Hills Educational Foundation and Oak Hills PTA will be hosting their annual science fair at Oak Hills School in Valencia in the form of an exciting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo event on Jan. 23rd-26th.
    Friday, Jan 19, 2018
    The Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District has appointed Brittany Kruczynski as the new Director of Fiscal Services.
    Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018
    iLEAD Schools will honor College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook with its 'Vision in Education' award at the Santa Clarita Valley International School’s annual benefit dinner on March 10.
    Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018
    Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi), a free public charter school serving grades TK through 12, will host an informational session Thursday for current and prospective high school students in the school’s Shakespeare Theatre at 28060 Hasley Canyon Road in Castaic, the school announced Tuesday.
    Friday, Jan 12, 2018
    At the next regular meeting of the Saugus Union School District, the Governing Board members will hear proposals for candidates for the district's new Superintendent from three executive search firms on Tuesday, January 16.

    Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
    A Castaic man was charged with attempted murder and assault for allegedly trying to set his ex-girlfriend on fire in one of three domestic violence incidents in the SCV Friday and Saturday.
    Man Allegedly Tries to Kill Ex-Girlfriend by Setting Her on Fire
    College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus officials will break ground on the Science Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
    Jan. 24: Science Center Groundbreaking at COC Canyon Country Campus
    The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley has named Canyon High School sophomore Lluvia Partida the 2018 Youth of the Year.
    Lluvia Partida Named SCV Boys and Girls Club 2018 Youth of the Year
    The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce will host five grand openings for local businesses in February 2018 - Fantastic Sams, Bodhi Leaf Coffee, Kaiser Permanente, Farmers Insurance and Open Trails E-Bikes.
    February: SCV Chamber Hosts 5 Grand Openings
    California State Parks is taking reservations for the spring tour season at Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park in Tehachapi, site of a Kawaiisu Native American village.
    Reservations Open for Tours at Tehachapi Native American Village Site
    The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve will be open March 1 through May 13 (Mother’s Day) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.
    March 1: California Poppy Reserve Center Opens in Antelope Valley
    The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve’s two-day volunteer training for the 2018 spring wildflower season will be held on February 3 and February 10, both Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Feb. 3, Feb. 10: Poppy Reserve Volunteer Training for 2018 Wildflower Season
    The 2017 Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey again ranked Santa Clarita among the best cities for doing business in Southern California.
    Survey: Santa Clarita Among County’s Best in Cost of Doing Business
    Traffic on McBean Parkway between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard in Valencia is being delayed intermittently between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. today due to filming involving a Cessna airplane that will land at the Valencia Country Club.
    Small Plane Landings for Movie Shoot in Valencia Until 4 p.m. Today
    Adam Rubio's game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning resulted in TMU's 5-4 win over Marymount California University Saturday.
    Mustangs Rally to Beat MCU in the Eighth
    With Robert Winslow on the mound, TMU won 13-0 over visiting Marymount California University at Master's in the second game of Saturday's double-header.
    Master’s Baseball Team Wraps Opening Series in Dominating Fashion
    The No. 4 Mustangs men's basketball team scored a 74-71 win over Westmont before a capacity crowd Saturday in the team's 18th straight victory, and fifth straight to open Golden State Athletic Conference play.
    Master’s Holds off Westmont for 18th Straight Win
    Hannah Forrar scored 16 points Saturday night but The Master's University women's basketball team still lost to Westmont 62-55.
    Westmont Rises Over Mustangs 62-56
    It’s not too late to register for the College of the Canyons spring 2018 semester, which will run from Monday, Feb. 5 to Thursday, June 1.
    Not Too Late for COC Spring Registration
    Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies caught and arrested two men and two women from Bakersfield allegedly using credit cards stolen in Santa Clarita to purchase items at a Centre Pointe business.
    4 Alleged Credit Card Thieves Arrested on Multiple Charges
    Caltrans has reopened U.S. Highway 101 in between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara after nearly a nearly two-week closure due to mudslides.
    Caltrans Reopens Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara
    A 38-year-old man was arrested on charges including theft and forgery in Stevenson Ranch early Thursday morning.
    Man Booked for Alleged Theft, Forgery in Stevenson Ranch
    L.A. County health officials have extended a Cold Weather Alert for the Santa Clarita Valley through Monday night due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures.
    SCV Cold Weather Alert Extended Through Tonight
    In the ninth inning Friday, with Master's well on its way to a 15-7 season-opening win over Marymount California University, Coach Monte Brooks sent Josh Robison to the plate if for no other reason than to see what would happen.
    TMU’s Robison Hits 3 Homers in Season-Opening Win
    Here is the Castaic/Val Verde public safety and crime information report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of January 1, 2018
    Crime Blotter: Theft, Grand Theft Auto in Castaic-Val Verde
    Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck abruptly announced his retirement on Friday, capping off an eight-year stint leading one of the largest metropolitan police forces in America.
    L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck Abruptly Announces Retirement
    1839 - Gov. Juan B. Alvarado gives most of SCV to Mexican Army Lt. Antonio del Valle. [story]
    1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]
    1993 - Hart High grad Dee Dee Myers (1979) becomes first female White House press secretary [story]
    Traffic on McBean Parkway between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard will be delayed intermittently between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, January 22 due to filming involving a Cessna airplane that will land at the Valencia Country Club.
    Jan. 22: Filming in Valencia to Prompt Street Closures
    Attorneys Brian Koegle and David Poole of Santa Clarita Valley law firm Poole & Shaffery, LLP will provide insight on legal matters affecting California businesses at the Valley Industry Association's February luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on February 20 starting at 11:45 a.m.
    Feb. 20: VIA Luncheon, 2018 Employment Law Update
    Oak Hills Educational Foundation and Oak Hills PTA will be hosting their annual science fair at Oak Hills School in Valencia in the form of an exciting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo event on Jan. 23rd-26th.
    Jan. 26: Oaks Hills STEM Expo
    2017 was an exceptional year for the Santa Clarita Valley economy, and 2018 promises even more positive growth.
    Live, Work, Play in SCV: All to Improve in 2018
    Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation Mythbusters tackle a tough and persistent question: Is growing a community a good thing?
    SCV EDC Mythbusters: Why Growth is Good
    The nonprofit SCV Mayor’s Committee For Employment of Individuals with Disabilities will host its second annual Educate-Empower-Employ Recognition Luncheon at COC on Thursday, February 22.
    Feb. 22: SCV Mayor’s Committee Annual Luncheon, Fundraiser
    CalArts alumni will stage the second annual Co-Incidence Festival, an experimental music festival and residency hosted at Washington Street Gallery in Somerville, Massachusetts from Jan. 19-28.
    Jan. 19-28: CalArtians Stage Co-Incidence Festival in Mass.
    Joseph Wayne Monroy, a South Gate man charged with the murder of a Newhall man in January 2016, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Los Angeles Superior Court today, and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
    Monroy Sentenced to 21 Years for 2016 Newhall Murder
    Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has appointed Joseph Hedges to the position of Chief Operating Officer and Pamela Mizukami as Chief Deputy Director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
    Brown Expands High-Speed Rail Exec Team to Move Project Forward
    The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reports that influenza activity has declined over the last two weeks; however, activity is still widespread and higher than peak levels observed during recent seasons.
    Flu Outbreak Eases in L.A. County, But Still Widespread
    The Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District has appointed Brittany Kruczynski as the new Director of Fiscal Services.
    Kruczynski Named Hart District Fiscal Services Director
    Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies were out in force stepping up enforcement of pedestrian and bicycle safety laws and issued 69 citations to drivers Wednesday, but none to pedestrians.
    SCV Deputies’ Pedestrian, Bike Safety Push Nets 69 Citations