Hundreds of Saugus High School juniors and seniors look on as first responders move the "dead body" of Saugus High School senior Jared Zimmerman, representing the victim in a drunk driving, head-on collision during the "Every 15 Minutes" event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
At approximately 11:30 a.m. Thursday in front of Saugus High School, four students sat in crashed cars to simulate the ramifications of drunken driving, during the two-day “Every 15 Minutes” program funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety and organized by the California Highway Patrol.
About 1,200 juniors and seniors watched as law enforcement staged a sobriety test on Carson Messick, then apprehended him for drunken driving, while his passenger Sarah Nigra was placed into an ambulance, where she would be pronounced dead at the hospital.
The two students in the other car, Rick Hand and Jared Zimmerman, were pronounced dead on arrival and were put into a coroner’s van after first responders used saws and the jaws of life to remove them from the car.
“We’re trying to incite your emotions,” Vince Ferry, Saugus High School principal, said to the students watching. “I am very aware that a lot of things you’re learning in the classroom today you will not remember a year from now. I’m hoping the one thing you’re going to take away from your experience at Saugus High School is what we provided here today.”
Along with the four students in the cars, 14 students were removed from classrooms from 7:25 to 10:35 a.m. to act as the “walking dead,” which represented how youth are killed due to alcohol-related accidents every 15 minutes.
Hundreds of Saugus High School juniors and seniors file into the bleachers before the “Every 15 Minutes” event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
“It’s important for these kids to see what happens in real life,” said CHP officer Josh Greenguard. “They have some, but not a lot of life experience behind them. It’s important for them to see what can happen if you get behind the wheel intoxicated.”
Emotional students and parents gathered around the scene hoping this program will have an impact on the youth.
The “Grim Reaper,” left, leads the “walking dead,” a group Saugus High School students representing teenagers killed every 15 minutes, during the “Every 15 Minutes” event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
In the crowd stood Debi and Ched Nigra, parents of Sarah. “I hope this opens up students’ eyes,” said Debi. “Life is short and you can’t make a stupid mistake like this.”
As a part of the program, the four students and the “walking dead” were unable to have contact with their parents until the next morning.
One of the students involved in the simulated car crash said he was unsure about participating when first asked.
“I’m doing this to help raise awareness,” Zimmerman said. “I hope people learn the lesson that drunk driving is not safe and it can cause a lot of problems.”
Abi Hawthorn’s friend was among those who simulated death. “I just wanted to text her, but I knew I couldn’t,” she said.
First responders remove the “dead body” of Saugus High School senior Jared Zimmerman representing the victim in a drunk driving, head-on collision during the “Every 15 Minutes” event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
After the car crash simulation ended, students were taken over to the courthouse to watch where Messick would be charged with driving under the influence in a show trial to portray the severity of driving intoxicated.
Students were also taken to the hospital to witness the moment parents are informed about their children’s deaths.
Andrew Shean, a Saugus High junior, said his father works in law enforcement, and he’s seen how these situations take a toll on first responders.
“My dad sees people my age die in situations like this,” said Shean. “I hope this sheds light on students about drug and alcohol problems.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Wilson, left, leads Saugus High School senior Carson Messick to a patrol car after he is “arrested for drunk driving” during the “Every 15 Minutes” event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
The program continues today with an assembly. A video of the simulation made by Saugus High students will be shown along with drug and alcoholism resources.
“I’m hoping you take time to reflect,” Ferry said to students. “I’m hoping you will take time to have a conversation with your parents and your friends on what you will do to prevent this simulation from becoming a reality for you.”
Hundreds of Saugus High School juniors and seniors look on as first responders remove the “dead body” of Saugus High School junior, Rick Hand, representing the victim in a drunk driving, head-on collision during the “Every 15 Minutes” event held at Saugus High School on Thursday, November 7, 2019. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that the national organization has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a media release, the organization cites the filing is expected to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come.
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has announced FocusSCV -- a newly designed leadership program for directors, middle management, entrepreneurs and business owners, who are looking to take an active role in helping to shape the future of the SCV community.
LA Kings officials have announced that they've acquired forward Tim Schaller, the rights to forward Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round selection in 2022 from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Tyler Toffoli, according to Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake.
The members of the CA-782nd Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) gathered at the Santa Clarita Valley Activities Center February 9, 2020, to celebrate at their annual Military Ball event. Military Ball is a military tradition in which the Corps gathers for a formal dinner, dancing, and other events to celebrate the corps.
Sarah Avanessian, a Castaic High School English teacher and past Teacher of the Year from the William S. Hart Union High School District, was presented the Beth Dalton Memorial Literacy Leadership Award by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) at the Literacy Lifts Conference.
In honor of Black History Month, the Delmar T. Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge is exploring African American life from both sides of the camera with “Photography through the African American Lens,” an exhibition that will feature a panel of African American photographers showcasing their work on Tuesday, Feb 25.
The Annual Kite Festival organized by the non-profit organization CRY- Child Rights and You is coming back on Sunday February 23, 2020 beginning at 10 a.m. in the West Creek Park, 24247 Village Circle, Valencia, California, 91354.
Did your child miss the Spring auditions for the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra? There is no need to worry; seats are still available. The Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra will be holding another round of auditions on Saturday, February 22nd at College of the Canyons.
Antelope Valley Indian Museum is seeking actors age 8 to 18 for the museum’s annual outdoor play based on a traditional California Indian story. Rehearsals are every Tuesday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The performance will be the evening of Saturday, May 2.
The SCV Education Foundation has announced its "Page Turners 2020 Campaign", where over the next two months they will be striving to fundraise and gather support for Page Turners, a program The Foundation piloted last year.
A Big Band, a charismatic international jazz group from Northamptonshire, England, will perform a mixture of styles from Gordon Goodwin, Alan Baylock and Van Morrison to Radiohead at the Valencia High School Theater on Tuesday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m.