This is your every 15 Minutes
This is your every 15 Minutes
Submitted By: Jessica Pablo
Community Outreach Intern
On April 27th and 28th, Manteca High Schools gathered together to watch the annual Every 15 Minutes program. Every 15 Minutes, also referred to as E15, is a two-day program that focuses on high school seniors by challenging them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, the responsibility that comes with being a mature young adult, and how their decisions can impact their family, friends, and community.
The mock car accident was held at Manteca High’s football stadium on day-one, and the mock memorial service at the Christian Worship Center in Manteca on day-two. This program is held to show students how one bad decision can drastcially change their life forever.
“1.8 seconds. It takes 1.8 seconds to make a decision,” said Judge Agbayani, one of the several guest speakers that spoke at the mock memorial service that took place on Friday, April 28th. It took Joseph Towle (Calla High School) 1.8 seconds to decide that he was going to drive drunk. Towle made a split decision that inflicted pain and suffering amongst not only those involved in the accident, but their families as well.
The mock car collision began with the screeching of tires followed by an extremely loud crash. As soon as the crash sounded, tarps were lifted off the totaled cars, and smoke filled the air. The smoke cleared up seconds later, revealing a horrifying crash scene. Thus began “The Golden Hour” that first responders consider most critical for successful emergency treatment after traumatic injury.
A teenage girl who was in the backseat of the sedan being driven by the drunk driver instantly called 911. The operator asks her a series of questions. Sergeant Schluer’s voice comes through the speakers, “The 911 call has already cut into about four minutes of their golden hour.”
Joseph Towle, frustrated and confused, screams at his friend Athen Gonzales (Sierra High School) to wake up, but Athen is dead. He flew through the windshield and was now laying across the hood of the car. “I WAS FINE!” Towle repeatedly yelled as he began to grab empty alcohol containers and threw them across the football field. Law enforcement was the first to arrive, quickly checking the students for pulses and then moving on to interrogate Towle.
A few feet to the right of the crushed sedan was a totaled expedition that toppled over onto the passenger side. Hanging outside of the passenger side windshield was barely alive Juliana Casale of EUHS. The shrill cries for help from Vanessa Padilla of SHS and Jenna Zuniga of EUHS echoed in the stadium as firemen and paramedics finally arrived to the scene, fifteen minutes into their golden hour.
About forty five minutes into their golden hour, the firemen were able to reach the students that were trapped in the expedition, and paramedics were finally able to rush the critically injured to the hospital. The morgue was called, and a soon after, a hearse drove onto the track. The firemen proceeded to take the three students that were pronounced dead-on-arrival, placed them into separate body bags, and loaded them into the hearse.
The hearse drove away, and then the audience’s attention was turned to a policeman completing a field sobriety test on the driver of the sedan. Towle’s blood alcohol level was 1.2, the legal limit is .08. The intoxicated minor was placed under arrest for driving under the influence, and was taken to the San Joaquin County Jail.
In the background, Grim Reapers from each school and “The Living Dead” walked onto the football field and loomed over the crash scene. Students that were selected to participate as one of “the living dead,” stay overnight at a local church. These students lose all contact with the outside world for two days. They listen to guest speakers who have lost a loved one due to someone driving under the influence. Tombstones for the students selected were placed around the Manteca schools campuses. Each one contained the students’ personal story of how they died to an alcohol related accident.
One of the students selected for being a member of “the Living Dead” was Makayla Logue. “We got to listen to people talk to us and hear what they’ve been through,” said Logue. “It was hard, but overall, it was a really big eye-opener.”
On Friday April 28th, the mock funeral service was presented. A video of the collision scene held they day before was played. The video showed the parents of the students who passed, talking to a policeman. The policeman talked to the parents about the accident that occurred, and then let them know that their child has passed. He led them into a room at the morgue, and asked them to identify the bodies of the deceased. Many tears were shed as the video came to an end.
Following the video, several guest speakers talked about their personal experiences with losing a loved one due to someone driving under the influence. Parents and students also shared letters that were written to each other. Students began their letters with the words, “Today I died.”
Zuniga talked about her experience being a member of the living dead, and one of the injured in the collision. “I saw people cry from our class that I never thought I would. I cried to people I never thought I would ever talk to. It was a great experience overall.”
At the end of the memorial service, Manteca students vowed not to drink and drive. Students left the church in silence with many thinking about one phrase that they will never forget: “Every 15 minutes, someone dies or is seriously injured in an alcohol related accident.”