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LATHROP HIGH SAYS GOOD-BYE

Every 15 Minutes drives home deadly lesson

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LATHROP HIGH SAYS GOOD-BYE

The “walking dead” from Lathrop High’s Every 15 Minute production, designed to educate student drivers about the dangers of drinking a driving, are seen taking the casket of one of their classmates...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/


POSTED April 17, 2017 12:27 a.m.

It was a solemn assembly in the Lathrop High School gym where a funeral was staged  honoring the memory of those students “killed” in an Every 15 Minutes mock head-on collision in the school’s athletic stadium.

The two students who were “killed” in the scripted production were Chase Hayes and Shaianne Brito. 

Speakers Thursday presenting their take on the causes and effects of fatal driving under the influence crashes ranged from Superior Court Judge Tony Agbayani, Civil Attorney Mirko Kozina abd victim Alisha Webster and her memories of losing her 16-year-old sister to a drunk driver, and student Lori Martin.

One poem that set the tone of the funeral and the loss was included in the program read:

“I went to a party and remembered what you said Mom.

“You told me not to drink so I had a Sprite instead.  I felt proud of myself, the way you said I would, that I didn’t drink and drive, although some of my friends said I should.  I made a healthy choice and your advice to me was right.  The party finally ended and the kids drove out of sight.  I got into my car,  sure I would get home in one piece.  I never knew what was coming, Mom, something that I expected the least.

“Now I am lying on the pavement and I hear the policeman say, the kid that caused the wreck was drunk – Mom his voice seems too far away.  My own blood is all around me as I try not to cry.  I can hear the paramedic say, ‘This girl is going to die.’  I’m sure the guy had no idea, as he was flying high, as he chose to drink and drive – ‘Now I would have to die.’

“So why do people do it Mom, knowing that it ruins lives?  Now the pain is cutting me like a hundred stabbing knives.  Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom.  Tell Daddy to be brave and when I go to heaven ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is on my grave.  Someone should have taught him that it’s wrong to drink and drive. Maybe if his parents had, I’d still be alive.  My breath is getting shorter Mom.  I’m getting really scared.  These are my final moments and I’m so unprepared.  I wish you could hold me, Mom, as I lie here and die.  I wish that I could say ‘I love you, Mom!’ So, I love you and goodbye.”

Guest speaker Alicia Webster then went to the lectern and told the Lathrop students that she was awakened at home the morning of Oct. 8 in 2006 by a devastating phone call that would pierce the heart of her family with the news of her sister’s death in a DUI crash.  

It was her brother on the phone who told her to wake up their Dad when they were away on vacation to Blue Lakes.  Her sister had stayed home so she could go to her homecoming dance at Linden High. Her sister Nikki had been the passenger in a car where the driver was drunk.

She said she walked into her parents’ bedroom and handed them the phone.  “I watched my Dad, who is the strongest man I know, fall to his knees and sob like a child.  I was literally watching my whole world fall apart,” she said.

They were driving on a rural country road, the driver’s speed was determined to be around 65 miles an hour, when he lost control of the car and crashed into a telephone pole.  The car was split into two pieces. Her sister was thrown 25 feet and killed instantly.  The cause of death was blunt force trauma of the head, neck and upper torso. 

“When we got home, the first thing I did was walk into her room.  I crawled into her unmade bed and I buried my face into her pillow and began to cry because it was that very second that I realized this was the only thing we had left – her smell,” she said.

The next speaker to address the upper class students was Judge Agbayani – the father of nine of his own children – who explained the 1.8 second rule used in making decisions.  He said it only takes 1.8 second to decide to take a drink, 1.8 seconds to turn the key in the ignition and 1.8 seconds to die at the wheel.  

Judge Agbayani began his presentation dressed in business attire, later donning a judge’s robe telling students what the legal outcome could be in putting them behind bars when charged with second degree murder. 

Kozina, a Stockton civil attorney, chimed in saying it is his duty to give the surviving families after the death of their students in DUI crashes – money, millions of dollars in money.  He explained the outcome of a DUI crash could destroy students’ families economically.

He explained that the parents of the fatal crash victims would never see their sons and daughters again and they would not have the joy of having the grandchildren they once expected in their lives in the future.  

The Lathrop High students who made up the production class included, John Abapo, Josiah Acosta, Allison Alvarez, Maia Anderson, Dominic Archibeque, Shashon Blueford, Shaianne Brito, Stephanie Contreras, Luisa Diaz, Frankie Edu, Alyssa Estrada, Karolyna Franco-Avila, Akshat Giri, Chase Hayes, Fasha Hayes, Julianne Justo, Abigail Lee, April Medel, Samantha Mix, Arianna Morgado, Ashley O’Hare, Lanashia Parker, Isaac Quesada, Amy Ratta, James Smith and Colin Weis.

Mentoring the students in the DUI production was student activities director Allison Birakos.  

 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecbulletin.com. 

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