It was a staged lesson in the horrors of drinking and driving that first responding emergency personnel hope the students of Ripon High School never have to witness first hand. It was the annual Every 15 Minutes saga resulting in major injuries and death from drinking and driving.
Some 250 students sitting in bleachers along the end of Acacia Avenue on the high school campus watched the fire engines, ambulances and police units come from Main Street with red lights and sirens screaming to the simulated crash scene that claimed the lives of RHS students in an alcohol induced collision.
The crash between two cars head-on took place at 10 a.m. and the follow-up assembly is scheduled for this morning in the high school gym. Speakers will address the students and explain how the fallout of a DUI crash can affect the economic picture of the guilty driver’s family for the rest of their lives. A Superior Court judge and prosecuting and defense attorneys are also expected to speak.
Ripon High Activities Director Jill Mortensen published a small program about the DUI event printed on slick paper that described all the students involved in the E-15 production.
Ripon Police Sergeant Steve Meece served as the master of ceremonies at the crash site and described what was happening in the first responders’ scenario from the time of the collision until the coroner inspected the body and saw it taken off to the San Joaquin County morgue in French Camp.
Two ambulances, two fire engines, three highway patrol units and three Ripon police units responded to the scene that was littered with bodies inside and outside the damaged vehicles as well as countless beer cans in addition to the walking wounded who were injured but who survived the crash.
The fire department had several chaplains on the scene and a Ripon officer took the responsible driver aside and gave him a field sobriety test in the middle of the street which he failed.
A hearse pulled up to take away one fatal victim and drove away from the scene after two ambulances had already left for San Joaquin County General Hospital in French Camp where at least one set of parents met their son and learned of his condition.
One RHS science teacher, Mrs. Ann Pendleton, was the first “make believe” fatality to be mentioned in the published book on the disaster behind Ripon High. Her dream was reportedly to continue teaching at the high school for the next 15 to 20 years until the day of her retirement. The only child of Dutch immigrants, she embraced her family’s culture and was able to visit her extended family in Holland 12 times. When she graduated from Ripon High in 1989 she was co-valedictorian of her class.
Another “make believe” death was student Branden States. His dream was to attend Nebraska University and earn a degree in Computer Science. Due to a drunk driver his dreams will never come true. A junior at RHS he was involved in his school and community through ASB Leadership, FFA, Link Crew and RCAF. Branden will be remembered for being quiet and humble, smart, goal-driven and a friend to all. Some of his family members include his grandparents Bob and Kris Brocchini, Jim and Mary States, sister Malery and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
The cast of students in the E-15 production included Bryce Hurley, Bryce Kinsey, Cole Stevens, Cyanne McKibben, Dani Poortinga, Daniel Acosta, Delany Buss, Dylan Sexton, Faith Borges, Garrett Avila, Geovanni Medina, Giselle Castaneda, Jamie Sparano, Janelle Huskey, Jasmine Parra, Jennica Baldwin, Jesus “Jesse” Farias, Kayla Hutto, Rebekah Esteves, Summer Osborne, Trent Hawes and Ulises Martinez,
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