A staged fatal car crash sends a sobering message to teenagers at Hart High School about the dangers of reckless driving Thursday for Every 15 Minutes.
Students were taken from class every 15 minutes, as if they had been “lost” in a tragic incident.
Then, more than 1,000 junior and seniors watched as first-responders arrived at the scene of the simulated fatal crash. The program, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Highway Patrol and the city, is meant to remind teens about the importance of making responsible choices when behind the wheel.
“The program basically is to make high school students aware of the dangers of drinking and driving,” said program supervisor Deputy Deanna Santino of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, describing the goal.
They were joined by other student program participants at a driving under the influence (DUI) simulated collision scene, which will be set up near the school for the students to view, depicting fatalities and serious injuries to several students.
During the program, the Air-5 rescue helicopter from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Aero Bureau was used to simulate an airlift of a critically injured student to a local hospital.
Several other “injured” students were treated at the scene by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and taken to a local hospital. A drunk driver was arrested and taken to the Santa Clarita Superior Court, where a simulated conviction for manslaughter will occur.
Santino, who has been involved in the program for several years, said she can see how the tragic lesson can make an impact on the students.
“In the morning, it’s usually all fun and games,” she said. “By the evening, we get tears, we get stoic silence – we get the full range of emotions throughout the day. So I really do think it sinks in.”