With my limitations spelled out via text message, I headed off to "Every 15 minutes" at Corona del Mar High School.
I recently met Newport Beach Police Officer Anderson, who was coordinating the event at the school. I sat in a meeting with him where kids were nominated to participate. The idea behind the event is to scare the crap out of the kids as it relates to driving under the influence. I won’t know until later this afternoon how my son reacted, but it spooked me.
I came by bike and locked it up outside the principal’s office; if I had known the simulation was so far out behind the school, I might have just rolled up. So this long walk across campus gives me a little time to clear my head. I pass by the faux tombstones with the kids’ names and pictures. This would be a good program for Halloween.
Then I spot the stadium seating, way out back behind the school. As I walk towards it a hearse pulls up and parks. Then I see the crash site — two teens have been thrown from their vehicles; it was a head-on collision and everyone involved has spent hours in makeup. It’s very realistic. Then I hear the 911 call broadcast; someone is on the scene and is calling for help. She’s hysterical as she describes the scene. I know it’s all an illusion, but the 911 operator is making it sound so life like. Sirens signal help is on the way; first to arrive are the motorcycle cops. It’s looking a little too real for me; I feel choked up. I imagine they’ve rolled up to too many situations like this. Then come the fire truck and ambulance. One girl who’s a bloddy mess is put on a stretcher and taken away; one isn’t. A boy is covered with a sheet.
That’s enough for me. I don’t want the Chief to see me crying. Why is this so scary for me? Why can’t I just file this away as ‘simulated’? Because my teen driver is sitting in the stands; it’s just a little too close to home for me.
I’m not the only one affected. There are no cat-calls, no signs of disrespect from these high schoolers. They sit riveted; staring at the sheet.