The Every 15 Minutes production held Thursday morning at the Ripon Christian High School campus was designed to discourage drinking and driving by high school students and to make them understand the gravity and impact and driving when they are not sober.
Mothers of the students and girls made use of tissues to wipe away tears as they found it hard to separate the possible reality from the scripting of the event seeing their sons, daughters and friends “horribly injured” in the unfolding crash scene before them.
Superior Court judges in past years have told students that once they have attended a driving under the influence (DUI) production, they are considered educated to the dangers of drinking and driving. Should someone die in a crash after attending such an event, DUI drivers can be charged with murder, students have been told.
Retired San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Stevens emceed the DUI event explaining the “Golden Hour” as the time of survival in such a horrendous crash. Counting off the minutes, students witnessed just how long it took police and other first responders to reach the crash site and render life-saving aid. Five minutes seemed more like 20 before screaming police sirens and fire units reached the accident scene at the rear of the Ripon campus.
A row of students in black T-shirts, called the “walking dead” formed a back drop for the deadly accident scene as the first responders rendered aid to those critically and mortally injured.
Arriving last were the Ripon police officers and the ambulance and highway patrolmen totaling a dozen or more first responders as the students watched the scene evolve and members of their class lying injured in their vehicles and on the pavement – two were dead.
One student, Lauren Henderson, took on the driver of the vehicle that caused the DUI crash to task and verbally scolded and yelled at him at the top of her voice for causing the injuries to her friends.
“Get out of here – Get away from them,” she yelled.
Stevens continued to count off the minutes that would limit the chances of survival to those gravely injured at the scene while a REACH ambulance helicopter circled overhead with the pilot and spotter looking for a safe landing spot on the grass below.
A ground ambulance crew loaded one injured student into its emergency vehicle while firefighters carried another on a backboard out to the helicopter where they were guided by a flight crew member on just how to on-load the student.
Ripon Police Sergeant Steve Meece gave the DUI driver a field sobriety test in front of his classmates and when the teen driver failed the test, he was handcuffed and led off to a police car and taken to county jail for booking.
He is expected to appear at the funeral today in a red jump suit and shackles as he would be in real life being held for manslaughter or if he had been to a DUI event in the past, the charge would be murder.
The coroner arrived on the scene and checked out the one body on the ground that he uncovered as Stevens explained for the students just what he was doing as he checked the head and neck along with the ribs to determine the extent of the victim’s injuries before she was released to the funeral home. It obviously made a serious impact on the new drivers in the crowd.
Near the end of the presentation a cell phone’s ring was heard over the public address system. Stevens walked over to the crash scene and opened the door of one of the vehicles and found the phone, holding it up and saying its owner wasn’t there – she would never return a call again.
When the students rose from their bleacher seats at the end of the event, they were seen walking quietly back to their classrooms without a murmur – unbelievably quiet.