Steven Ponzo: Every 15 Minutes is very real to some students


Gazette photo: Colleen Vivaldi

For some students at Granite Bay High School, Every 15 Minutes is all too real.

Senior Steven Ponzo is one student who has experienced, firsthand, the tragedy of a drunk driving accident.

At age 20, his sister Lindsay died in a drunk-driving accident, after colliding with another car.

“She was out late at night drinking and driving, and she dropped her phone and went to grab it and swerved into oncoming traffic,” Ponzo said. “She was ejected out of the vehicle because she was not wearing a seat belt, and she died instantly.”

Ponzo said his whole family has been affected tremendously by the loss of their sister and daughter. Even though it has been nine years since the accident, Ponzo said his family is still recovering and doesn’t think they ever will completely.

“My mom went into depression for five years,” Ponzo said. “There’s a gap of my childhood where I don’t even remember my mom because she did not leave her bedroom. The doctor labeled her as ‘depressed’ for five years, and finally one day my mom just snapped out of it, and she said, ‘I need to be there for my (other children’s) lives.’ On the fifth year, she said she needed to get her life back together, and she did.”

During GBHS’s Every 15 Minutes in 2008, Ponzo’s sister Marcie actually spoke in front of the juniors and seniors and talked about her experience with the death of Lindsay. Since then, Ponzo said he has been looking forward to sharing his experiences, just as his sister did, with the juniors and seniors this year. He said he sees this as his opportunity to help prevent drunk-driving accidents from happening and to help save some lives.

“(Every 15 Minutes) is an event that means the world to me,” he said. “It is something that can make an impact, even if it’s one person out of the entire junior and senior class, because then that means it’s one more person that I know I can save. It’s something that’s scary because you’re messing with something that can ruin the rest of your family’s  lives.”

Because of Lindsay’s death, Ponzo said he has learned many valuable life lessons that he will remember forever. He said Lindsay’s death has made his family become closer and has made him mature at a young age by showing him the consequences of alcohol and drugs, and the significance of drinking and driving.

“Don’t drink and drive – it’s not worth it,” he said. “Just envision yourself not there. Envision your parents crying themselves to sleep. Envision your sister, your brother, your cousins, your aunts, your uncles. Picture all of them crying themselves to sleep for years because you made a stupid mistake when … (you could) give someone a phone call and say, ‘Hey I need a ride.’

“It’s so easy, and yet people just make it so hard.”