“Every 15 Minutes” a Sobering Lesson for Norco High Students

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
4 Min Read
Norco High student Hunter Hapke (center, with her palms on face) and other students watch firemen cut open a car with classmates inside portraying a drunk driving crash in front of the school last week. She confided the scene shook her more as it caused her to reflect on her uncle who recently survived a motorcycle accident. Photo by Gary Evans

“Every 15 Minutes”

Reported by Gary Evans

Since exposing youth to the horrors of prison life with the “Scared Straight” program in the 1970’s, and continuing with “Just Say No,” to drugs in the 80’s, adults are forever in search of methods to impress upon teens the real-life consequences of making poor decisions.

In the 90’s, the “Every 15 Minutes” program was born in Canada, one of many concepts to impress upon teens – and adults – the tragic horrors of drunk driving.

After months of intensive planning, in coordination with the California Highway Patrol which included 24 students participating in the chilling presentation, “Every 15 Minutes” came to the Norco High campus this past week, with a sobering two-day production. 

The “cradle to grave” program underscores the downhill spiral that begins with the decision first, to drink underage, and then to either drive or get into the car of a driver who has been drinking.

“The biggest impact is to show kids, and adults as well, the consequences of driving impaired,” CHP Public Information Officer Javier Navarro related.

And that begins with creating a realistic and gruesome accident scene, with students themselves playing the roles. First the extrication of the bodies, dead and alive. Ambulances, a medivac helicopter touched down on the baseball field, the coroner, arrest, jail, court, and the life-changing sentence. For those who are fortunate to have survived.

Each of those stops was on the student’s agenda to visit.

“I was always aware of the dangers of drinking and driving,” Ashley Gonzalez, who portrayed one of the students who dies in the hospital as a result of the crash, said.  “It’s really opened my eyes to drunk driving endangering people’s lives.  I want to be involved with this in college because drinking and driving is not just a high school issue.” 

For CHP Officer Navarro, this was far more than a script. It was the actual reality programming he experienced, working the aptly named “Graveyard Shift” for years.

“Things happen very fast.  It only takes one incident to affect you, lose your life, someone else’s life. You can go to prison for life.  It doesn’t just affect you, it’s going to affect your family, it’s going to impact other families involved, there is a lot at stake.”

To learn more about the “Every 15 Minutes” program, visit https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/programs/youth-programs/every-15-minutes.

Natalia Rosales, another student in one of the crash cars confided, “Being involved with Every 15 Minutes truly makes me cherish those around me even more, and value my time with them because something like this can happen in an instant.  We have to think about our actions before we do them.  I am a little more cautious now on everything I do.”

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Norco High students portray the Living Dead during a presentation of Every 15 Minutes last week.
Credit: Photo by Gary Evans
Norco High students portray the Living Dead during a presentation of Every 15 Minutes last week. Photo by Gary Evans
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