45 minutes before tragedy


Yumnah Shoaib

A fake memorial set up on campus for seniors Melanie Montez and Mikhal (Kel) King-Thomas.

Yumnah Shoaib, Editor-in-Chief

Every 15 minutes someone is killed or injured in a drunk driving accident.

The week of March 13-18 Royal High School hosted a staged accident to educate students on the dangers of drunk driving. The event had two parts: a 30-minute staged accident and speeches from the “dead” students and sponsors.

While the events totaled about an hour, the planning and editing took triple that time.

Actors for this project are selected by the school counselors and PTSA Chairperson. The students chosen to participate in the Every 15 Minute program were announced at the end of January. The Video Production crew that is assembled for the creation of the Every 15 Minute film starts to write the script once they know who the actors will be. The whole process takes about a month.

During the live crash scene, film students were recording the police department, the firefighters coming into the lot, the students in the car, and the “arrest” of senior Cody Lawrence, who played the drunk driver. The film students even recorded scenes at the Regal Plaza, the student’s houses, and in a police cell.

After the staged accident, the film students took the entire night to edit the clips into an educational video and did touch-ups before the assembly. Mrs. Alicia DeLaTorre, the film teacher said, “We edited the video once we were done filming the crash assembly. We stayed overnight at school editing up until the time of the assembly. As a matter of fact, we are going back to touch up the stuff we missed right now.”

Alongside Royal students, the police and fire department helped out the film to make it more realistic. The police and fire departments have been doing this program for years in our school district, and other school districts.

Behind the scenes Liz Hernandez, the PTSA Every 15 Minute Chairperson, is responsible for organizing the entire Every 15 Minute program for the school. Her job is to organize the various emergency response people, volunteers, the school, the students, the various venues, and the retreats.

Real beat up car from a car accident placed on campus for students to see the grim reality of a drunk driving accident. (Yumnah Shoaib)