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'Death is very graphic and finite'

Juniors and seniors get a first-hand look at the realities of driving under the influence. Crystal Morales' mother to speak Wednesday.

April 03, 2012|By Lauren Williams
  • Death watches as Shannon Griffin's body is loaded into an awaiting hearse during the Every 15 Minutes assembly at Corona del Mar High School on Tuesday. The assembly is designed to show students the dangers of drinking and driving by walking them through a staged car crash involved their peers.
Death watches as Shannon Griffin's body is loaded… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

About 800 Corona del Mar High School students walked to Mar Vista Drive on Tuesday to find four of their classmates injured and lying near shattered glass at the site of a bloody car crash.

The staged scene was part of the Every 15 Minutes national program in which juniors and seniors watched as a handful of classmates portrayed a drunk driving crash, complete with a visit from paramedics, police and the coroner.

"It's scary to see people you've known your whole life go away like that," junior Josh Roosin said, adding that he would be more likely to help friends who drank find a ride home.

"I think we struck a chord," said Newport Beach School Resource Officer Vlad Anderson. "We want to show the kids this is how your actions impact other people. When you do something that hurts someone and hurts you, it not only hurts your family, it hurts the whole community."

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Since the morning bell, one student was pulled from class every 15 minutes to illustrate how often people are killed in drunk-driving accidents.

Among them was senior Samoine Martin, who said the experience was emotional and she began breathing heavily.

Although the demonstration ended before noon, students involved with the program were taken to Hoag Hospital, and their parents were notified that their child "died" in a crash. The student accused of drunk driving was arrested and was to spend the night in jail.

Parents of "victims" were asked to write faux eulogies.

Cassidy Lundy, a junior, said it was eerie to see her classmates involved in a gory crash.

In her opinion, the most effective part of the scene was the 911 call, with the breathless caller describing the scene.

"What really gets you is the radio thing," she said. "That's exactly what I would sound like."

Anderson said using actual students in the program makes it more effective.

"By putting their friends out there, hopefully it brings back to them that it is something that is clearly real," he said. "Is it graphic? Yeah, but death is very graphic and finite."

On Wednesday parents are expected to read eulogies in the gym and show the video of fellow students who were taken to the hospital, coroner and jail.

Among those expected to speak is Gloria Morales, mother of Newport Harbor High School senior Crystal Morales, who was seriously injured after being hit by a car driven by an allegedly impaired driver.

Police allege that Marnie Jo Lippincott was driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs when she struck Morales as she used a crosswalk near the campus.

After being hospitalized and in a coma, Morales has left the hospital and is being home schooled, Harbor Principal Michael Vossen has said.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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