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Memories abound in preparation for DUI shrimp feed

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POSTED December 21, 2008 11:24 p.m.
It’s a shrimp feed geared to saving student lives from the threat of drunk drivers.
Police, ambulance, school and fire personnel are gearing up for the fund raiser on Saturday, Jan. 10, to provide funds for the dramatic Every 15-Minutes two-day high school event.
The goal is to bring drinking and driving into reality for high school seniors before graduation. The cost of the program is staggering because of all the agencies’ personnel involved — including the CHP helicopter — in addition to the food and games needed for the 24-hour-long scenario.
While many of the participants and their parents are deeply and emotionally affected by the life and death drill, others have taken it as a social get-together and something that couldn’t happen to them.
Karen Lilly was one of the students in the class of 2003 who met with reality shortly after graduation. She and her boyfriend had gone to separate parties meeting up later to be together. Lilly said she asked to drive his pride Acura because he had been drinking — but he said no way.
They sat and talked for awhile until he became impatient and he drove off with her and a friend in the back seat of the two door vehicle.
The trio was on a rural road that led to Mathews Road in French Camp — she estimated the speed at 100 miles an hour going into a turn near the county jail.  She said he lost control and they slid some 500 feet across a hard-packed lot with the car flipping over four times coming to rest on its roof.
The teen in the back was ejected on the second flip as the hatchback door popped open. All went to the hospital but there were no life threatening injures. Karen said she had just put her seat belt on 15 seconds before the crash or she would also have been thrown clear.
It cost the driver his license for a year and some $1,800 in fines and court fees, she said. She has never allowed herself to be in a like situation since. Karen said she will never forget her family coming to see her in the hospital and her twin sister scolding her for letting it happen.
Another woman from the same class said it’s really not uncommon to drink and drive even after going through the Q-15 demonstration. “I could name 10 people,” she said.  She also noted that a relative had chosen to drink and drive losing control and crashing onto a front lawn nearly hitting a house in a northwestern Manteca neighborhood.
James Ruble, an MHS graduate now in his junior year at U.C. Monterey Bay, was one of the participants who was taken out of class to be part of Every 15 Minutes and remembers it well.
Of the letters students wrote to their parents pretending they had been killed, his was chosen to be read before the assembly of students and family members at the Calvary Community church on Lathrop Road.
“I took it more to heart than anybody else did. I guess I said the things I never got a chance to say to my mom and dad,” he said. “It was like a goodbye letter.” James has two older sisters and a younger brother who is now in the seventh grade in Manteca.
It was an “eye-opening experience” for everyone he said. As for his seventh grade brother he wants to be a good example for him. “We’ re pretty close and I think I see a lot of myself in him. I would love for him not to make the same mistakes that I did — to have him look at my life and see the outcome,” he said.
The Manteca High grad said that the older he gets he wishes he would have listened more to his parents’ advice. “The older I get I realize they were not just talking,” he added.
“The best advice I could give is that it really isn’t worth it — it brings a lifetime of pain for whatever happens,” he said.
James also remembered a best friend in his high school days who was struck from behind by a motorcycle rider who had lost his leg in the crash. He was not injured but it shook him up.
Upon graduation James hopes to have a vocation in deep sea research.
And a Lodi girl is reportedly going to prison this week in the DUI death of her best friend, according to the CHP.
Cost for attending the Jan. 10 shrimp feed benefit is $35. It will be held at the Manteca Senior Center on Cherry Lane. Those attending must be at least 21. A social hour is set for 5 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 with a raffle at 8.
Music and dancing will begin at 8:30 and run until midnight.
For tickets or information call Stephen Schluer at 456-7317 or Angela Ott at 456-1834 or caroline Thibodeau, 858-0782.
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