Students at Los Alamitos High School watched through the fence as emergency personnel responded to the car accident on Los Alamitos Blvd.
First the cops arrived, followed soon after by the firefighters and ambulances. The firefighters used the Jaws of Life to break into the twisted wrecks to get at the injured teenagers.
The injured were loaded onto stretchers, with one badly-injured victim airlifted to the hospital by medevac helicopter. Two young victims weren’t so lucky. Their bodies were covered by yellow sheets before being removed in a van.
One of the drivers, a teenage girl, was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.
It was all part of an elaborate presentation as part of the Every 15 Minutes event to demonstrate to teenagers the harsh realities of drinking and driving. Many agencies took part, including: Los Alamitos Police Department, Seal Beach Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Orange County Fire Authority, CARE Ambulance, Mercy Air, and The Youth Center.
Northbound Los Alamitos Blvd. was closed down for several hours for the Every 15 Minutes presentation, which featured the dramatic arrival of a Mercy Air medical helicopter landing right on the Boulevard.
Among the guests were members of Los Alamitos City Council and Staff: Richard Murphy, Warren Kusumoto, Dean Grose, City Manager Brett Plumlee, Steve Mendoza, and Police Chief Todd Mattern were present, as well as Seal Beach Police Chief Joe Stilinovich.
That Every 15 Minutes presentation was part of a two-day program designed to educate high schoolers about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. It uses graphic images and hard reality checks to make its point.
During the event, students were pulled from class every fifteen minutes as they were “killed” in an alcohol-related traffic accident. Chief Mattern read an obituary of a student aloud before she was escorted away by a Grim Reaper.
The grass outside the classrooms was set up with mock grave markers with students’ names.
Day Two of the event features an assembly with speakers telling of their own personal experiences; it could be the relative of a victim – but it could also be someone who was responsible for an accident, too.
I covered Day 2 of LAHS’s Every 15 Minutes presentation in 2013 and listened to Jason Barber’s personal story. He described in graphic detail the injuries suffered by not only his brother, who was in the car when he crashed, but the victims in the other car he hit.
With any hope, all of this will hit home to the students who watched and listen. Altogether too many families are forever harmed by alcohol-related traffic accidents.
For more information about Every 15 Minutes, visit their website, www.every15minutes.com.
A deceased victim of a car accident is taken away while a Grim Reaper lurks in the background, as part of the Every 15 Minutes presentation. Photo by Katie Wiedel.