The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA

The Californian

Every 15 Minutes saves teens lives

San Ramon Valley fire fighters work hard to rip open the car door and save an injured victim from the mock crash at Cal.

Photo by Nicole Tan

San Ramon Valley fire fighters work hard to rip open the car door and save an injured victim from the mock crash at Cal.

Iris Kang, Staff Writer

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Everybody knows that “15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.”  But many are unaware that in those same 15 minutes a teenager dies from drunk or distracted driving.

Students at Cal High became increasingly aware of this fact this month through the school-wide program “Every 15 Minutes.” 

The program, which took place on March 16-17, is designed to show the severe consequences of driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Students were first introduced to the program on March 16 with an abrupt announcement at 9:50 a.m. that listed the students who “died” in drunk driving accidents. 

 Another batch of names were announced during fifth period that day.

The initial reaction of students was to instantly enter a frantic and confused sea of murmuring, shocked by the sudden situation. 

“I remember being really surprised,” said junior Christine Nguyen. “Some people in my class actually thought it was real.”

The first announcements were followed shortly thereafter by a video that depicted students partying before getting in their cars while “drunk.” The video ended with a loud crash of the drunk drivers’ two vehicles and a car full of girls who had not been partying.

After watching a video, students went to the football feield where they became wide-eyed at the sight of three badly damaged cars, connecting the incident to  the final scene of the car crash in the video. 

Leadership students involved in this accident entered an extremely realistic enactment of what actually happens after a crash. 

A phone call conversation with a 911 operator and the emotions released by the students were amplified throughout the field, striking the hearts of the audience with immense feelings of sadness and loss.

“That’s my brother! That’s my brother! Somebody please help my brother!” junior Audrey Rosales shouts as she looks at her dead brother Ryan lying unconscious at the front of the car.

Another wave of heart-wrenching grief washed across the crowd as the police officers delivered Audrey’s parents to the scene. 

Their reactions to the sight of their dead son was unforgettable.

The audience also witnessed a field sobriety test and the step-by-step process of an arrest being made of the two drivers, Nicole Sinitsa and Jolie Rains, who were hauled away in police cars.

Leadership also made a Twitter account with the handle “CHS Every 15 Minutes” that provided backstories for the selected students who died in car accidents. 

“A memorial fund has been established which goes to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. This perpetuates his life of generosity and caring for others,” a tweet for senior Andrew Ryan McCarthy read.

The next day, students were handed packs of tissues as they entered the memorial service for all those who were lost in alcohol-related accidents.

 At the services in the Event Center, a couple of students involved in the accident offered their condolences, regrets, and gratitude.

Some of the acts that were displayed were ones by senior Ashley Ward. Ward recited an original poem and junior Rianna Dizon  sang “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith as a tribute.

Guest Speaker Carol Leister was also present at the memorial to talk about the loss of her son, Scott Leister, who died at the hands of a drunk 21-year-old drunk driver who drove 120 miles into the car Leister was in on the Bay Bridge. 

Leister effectively delivered the immense loss parents feel when their innocent children are taken by irresponsible driving.

During this service, observers could see the tear-stained and solemn faces of students and teachers in the crowd.

“It will help students understand the consequences of drunk and distracted driving with the idea that your friends can die from it and it can happen to anybody,” said senior Anne Kasenchak, who helped organize the program. 

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Every 15 Minutes saves teens lives