One more time students filling a football stadium watched a staged production of the reality of what can happen with a split second decision to drink and drive.
High school students from Manteca, East Union, Sierra and Calla crammed into the stadium seats at Manteca High on Thursday to watch firefighters cut their classmates out of their mangled cars with the Jaws of Life. Three died and others were injured in the “staged” crash production.
The students were led through the event by Manteca Sgt. Steve Schluer who explained how a convicted drunk driver could go to jail for 15 years to life on a second degree murder charge in the DUI vehicular killing of innocent motorists and passengers. Sgt. Schluer noted that since three had died in the crash, the suspect would be facing three sets of 15 years to life convictions and wouldn’t see the light of day outside a prison for many years to come.
Units from the California Highway Patrol, Manteca Police and the Manteca Fire Department along with an engine from the Lathrop Manteca Fire Department rushed to the scene after receiving a 911 call reporting the crash with multiple injuries.
Students representing the “walking dead” stood on the grass of the football field and watched the scenario unfold with the destruction of two vehicles that had crashed on the school track with one of the vehicles on its side.
The badly injured students were carried or walked to a tarp area that served as a triage for those hurt in the collision – with the most seriously injured receiving priority attention from medics.
Professional videographers recorded every angle of the event in preparation for this morning’s funeral that will show the video and make the event all the more real as the juniors and seniors relive what they saw with the hope it will never happen to them if they ever find themselves in the company of a drinking driver.
Manteca DUI officer Dan Chestnut interviewed the suspected drunk driver before the students in the stands and put him through a preliminary alcohol screening and made him walk a line to determine his stability. He was also made to count backwards from 92 to 76 and finally handcuffed and walked away to a waiting patrol car. As he walked he could observe the coroner evaluating the dead body of a friend sprawled across the hood of a car.
The students who were transported to area hospitals by ambulance were being met by their parents as they acted out their roles of having died in the crash. It is not unusual to see parents – and especially mothers – break down in tears as they identify the bodies of their sons and daughters. They always somehow imagine that what they are seeing is all too real for them to comprehend in the loss of a child.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.