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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

Every 15 Minutes 2023: Simulation leaves an emotional impact on participants and community members

Every 15 minutes, a life is lost due to an alcohol-related accident. In hopes of promoting safe driving habits for adolescents, the California Highway Patrol initiated Every 15 Minutes (E15), a two-day program staging a car crash on Nov. 15 and memorial assembly on Nov. 16.
Photo by Sophie Nguyen
Beer cans are placed on top of a car to represent the cause of these deaths.

Crisp fall air surrounds the scene of a black rose placed delicately on the hood of the car. Lying on the car and dripping in fake blood is Aidan Ferrante, a senior acting as a victim in the staged car crash. Ferrante was declared deceased at the crash site. Slight wind gradually carries his younger sister Isabella’s and several audience members’ cries, but the black rose, placed at the location of a ‘death,’ remains still. The black rose may symbolize regret and anguish, but it makes a statement as a symbol of understanding and rebirth.

‘Every 15 Minutes’ is more than just a number from the California Highway Patrol. This biennial program, titled with this simple statistic, aims to address the impacts of drunk driving sparking emotions from all those involved- from regret and anguish to understanding and rebirth.


Regret (the driver)

Frank, senior, was selected as the drunk driver for the simulation. Audiences saw Frank tested with a sobriety test, arrested for drunk driving and later trialed for vehicular manslaughter.

In car accidents with the suspected under the influence of alcohol, the punishment would be prison time, which would typically be between 15 years to life. In E15, Frank was able to witness what would have likely happened if the crash was real; he was sentenced to prison for 10 years.

“This kind of experience gave me the feeling that I get a second chance, almost,” Frank said. “A lot of people in my situation, if this was real, they don’t get a second chance. They lose loved ones, they change their lives, they may lose their lives.”

The five participants of the crash along with the Living Dead participants were given the opportunity to go to the Placer County Jail and morgue as a part of the program. They toured these locations and listened to speakers with experiences in car crashes that was anything but fake.

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  • Kathryn Borges is put onto a stretcher to be transported to Sutter Roseville Medical Center via an ambulance.

  • Frank is taking a Field Sobriety Test.

  • Sean Fuller, Captain of the South Placer Fire Department, and another firefighter pull out deceased Aidan Ferrante from the top of the hood of the car.

  • Isabella Ferrante is comforted as she swallows the reality over her brother’s death.

  • Kathryn Borges being loaded into the ambulance by a firefighter on the scene. By ambulance, Borges is later transported to a helicopter to bring her to SRMC.

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Anguish (the Living Dead)

As Granite Bay High School Media program’s E15 coverage aired the recap video to over a thousand upperclassmen at the memorial assembly the day after the crash, emotional reactions were drawn from audience members all around.

“I got carried away,” junior Isabella Ferrante said. “I genuinely thought my brother died. And there’s nothing I could do about it.”

Out of the Living Dead, seniors Kathryn Borges (who died in the crash) and Jacob Marchuk were selected to read their goodbye speeches. Parents of the chosen “victims” and Living Dead participants were present at the ceremony, seated in the front row with tissue boxes all across. Some parents read eulogies.

Video by Sophie Nguyen

“It makes you reflect back on raising your kid and…your ability to protect them diminishes and they have to take over their own decision making,” Gregory Hailey, father of Austin Hailey, senior Living Dead participant, said. “And it’s hard as a parent…knowing that bad things can happen and you can’t save them from that like you did when they were little.”

Video by Shelby Adamson

Understanding (student reactions)

“(Drunk driving is) really a major problem that we, especially as teenagers, have nowadays…I want to spread the message,” Gerrard Ediagbonya, a senior, said.

E15, although centered over drunk driving, opens discussion for habit changes.

Distraction is the key reason for many auto accidents. A risk factor emerging in the generations reliant on technology and phones is texting while driving. The American Automobile Administration found that 94% of teen drivers acknowledged the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.

1 in 4 teen crashes are due to texting while driving. Comparatively, teens are six times as likely to be caught up in a car accident from texting rather than drunk driving, according to legal firm Edgar Snyder & Associates.

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Rebirth (future teens)

In an ideal world, teenagers would never drink. However, for those who still do, teenagers like E15 “driver” Frank Cusano say there’s no excuse for drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone who is.

“In our day and age where we have these technologies like Uber and Lyft that can take us anywhere, it’s just become so preventable. And so it’s really just a decision you can choose not to (make) at this point,” Cusano said.

There are other preventative measures to take to avoid accidents.

“We always advise people to please wear your seat belt. Please drive at a safe speed. Stay off your phone. Don’t mess around with the radio if at all possible. And you know, don’t eat, don’t drink while you’re driving and just get to the next destination safely,” Brandon Straw, Captain of California Highway Patrol (CHP), said.

Video by Sarah Yee

As more community conversations spring up, more people will learn that beyond refraining from drinking while driving, changing habits and ensuring proper behavior while driving will take this unnecessary statistic away. Perhaps, one day, as memorial assembly guest speaker Tom Graston hoped, the statistic of every 15 minutes would increase, with automobile fatalities less recurrent.

“I think as the generations go on and on, I think that people will actually learn how dangerous it is to be driving and under the influence,” junior Sophia Haley said.

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We would like to thank all the first responders, Placer County Sheriff Office, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, South Placer Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, GBHS school officials, GBHS Student Government and GBHS Film Media for their roles in E15. Without the collective effort, this program would not have been possible. 

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About the Contributors
Sophie Nguyen
Sophie Nguyen, Editor
Sophie is a junior and Opinions Editor. This is her third year on the Gazette staff.
Batul Zanzi
Batul Zanzi, Editor
Batul is a senior and Features Editor. This is her third year on the Gazette staff.
Shelby Adamson
Shelby Adamson, Staff Writer
Shelby Adamson is a freshman and this is her first year on the Granite Bay Today staff.
Anya Castro
Anya Castro, Staff Writer
Anya Castro is a freshman.  This is her first year on the Granite Bay Today staff.

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