H-SANTA MARIA

May 14, 2012 10:00 PM by Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

Teens learn deadly lessons about drinking and driving

With proms and graduations around the corner for many students, the risks of underage drinking come to the forefront of a lot of parents' concerns, especially if their kids are old enough to drive.

Students at Righetti High School in Santa Maria are getting a visual lesson of the possible consequences for drinking and driving through a program called "Every 15 Minutes." It's a partnership program between the California Highway Patrol and Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley.

This is the time of year where law enforcement sees an increase in teens drinking. While, the CHP says the numbers have improved, more still needs to be done.

"I severed some veins in my neck and a couple head injuries," said 11th Grader Andrew Reade, a volunteer victim.

The injuries are all fake, but the message is real and if it appears gruesome, well, that's the point.

"There are consequences for drinking and driving. There are serious consequences," said CHP Officer Rob Wallace.

It's a message organizers want to drive home for students in Santa Maria and across the Central Coast.

"That's the most dangerous aspect of alcohol is that when you think that you're ok, you're actually not," Wallace said.

"It really like opens your eyes and you realize how bad it can really be. I had no idea," said 11th Grader Karla Ramirez.

Emergency crews responded to a staged crash at Righetti High School involving four students. As firefighters and paramedics worked to rescue the student victims, their peers watched and waited.

"I think it shows that this is a real thing and it happens every day," said Senior Alex Nava.

"Just the dead body, I mean, it gives you chills and the way they had to open the car," Ramirez said.

One student, declared dead on scene, was picked up by the local mortuary. Another was airlifted to Marian Medical Center.

"I didn't realize the process was so long to help the people out," Nava said.

They are the kinds of images organizers hope stick with students and keep them from making deadly decisions.

"Presentations kind of get boring. You don't really pay attention to all of them, but if it's a friend you know that's in it, it really changes it," Reade said.

Like any high school presentation, some students seemed affected by what they saw. Others were texting or joking around, but bottom line, organizers hope the students walk away with some impressions and information that could save their lives.

Part Two is Tuesday, where students will take part in a mock funeral and hear actual testimonials from people who have lost family because of drunk drivers.

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