Washington Union students participate in ‘Every 15 Minutes’

The “Every 15 Minutes” project made a stop Thursday at Washington Union High in Easton where students watched a very real-looking reenactment of the aftermath of a DUI crash.

Seniors who are members of the Law and Justice Institute at Washington played parts in the reenactment in the school’s stadium parking lot while members of the junior and senior classes watched. The reenactment included emergency workers responding to the scene and the arrival of a helicopter to evacuate an injured person.

“Every 15 Minutes” is designed to teach students about the dangers of drinking and driving. The name comes from a statistic: When the national program was started, a teenager was killed in a drunk-driving accident somewhere in the U.S. every 15 minutes. It’s now every 30 minutes; and Thursday morning before the crash reenactment, a student or teacher was removed from a Washington High classroom every 30 minutes to represent the statistic. The “death” was symbolized by a heartbeat followed by a flat line heard over the school intercom and the arrival of the Grim Reaper (played by Washington High basketball coach Tony Petersen) to take the “dead” person away.

The students who played parts in the crash reenactment were “taken away” Thursday afternoon — to the morgue, the hospital or jail. The junior and senior classes will assemble Friday to see a video showing other scenes from the tragedy, including parents identifying their children at the morgue, the booking of the driver at the jail and a sentencing hearing in Fresno County Superior Court. All of those scenes were recorded earlier this month.