Students at Murrieta Valley High School were reminded of the grave dangers of drinking and driving Wednesday when the Murrieta Police Department, in conjunction with the Murrieta Fire Department, American Medical Response and other local emergency response agencies, kicked off the annual "Every 15 Minutes" program.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors viewed a mock fatal DUI accident take place on their campus. Numerous police, fire and ambulance personnel responded to the mock accident with lights and sirens. A Mercy Air Life Flight helicopter also landed on school grounds to airlift one of the "critically injured" students to a trauma center.
The re-enactment of the crash caused by a "drunk" teen driver demonstrates the serious social costs and often tragic personal consequences of drinking and driving, according to Murrieta police Sgt. Robert Anderson, who coordinates the local "Every 15 Minutes" program.
Students portrayed the drivers, passengers, critically injured and "deceased victims" in the mock accident.
"This emotionally charged program is designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and using drugs," Anderson said. "The powerful program challenges students to think about drinking and drugs, safe operation of their automobiles, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions."
The program concludes with a mock "funeral" for the victims of the accident during an assembly at 11 a.m. Thursday at the school. Afterward, the students who had roles in the crash and its aftermath will be reunited with their family and friends.
"Every 15 Minutes" is a nationally-recognized program that is held on a rotating basis at the city's three comprehensive high schools. Sponsored by local businesses, it is typically held just prior to the start of prom and graduation season.