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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow 'Every 15 Minutes'

'Every 15 Minutes'

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Sirens wailed in the cool, gray Wednesday morning, as ambulances, fire trucks and police squad cars rushed to Calaveras High School's football field.

In the bleachers watching sat 1,008 students — the entire student body — expecting to see a play about a drunken-driving accident.

What they saw was shockingly lifelike: the bent, twisted metal of a beige van and a black pickup, bloody bodies, injured passengers whimpering and weeping, and everywhere broken glass.

They were told that two fellow students — Mark Joyner and Melissa Marino — had been drinking beer in the parking lot and decided to race each other home.

Joyner and Marino jumped into their pickups and headed for Valley Springs. On Highway 12, Joyner tried to pass Marino, and clipped a van carrying the CHS girls' basketball team home from a game.

The result: a bloody wreck that killed two students and the girls' basketball coach.

As the students watched, tarps came off a crashed van and black pickup on the football field. The second pickup sat not far away.

The CHS students had just joined a drama meant to stop them from drinking and driving by showing them the consequences — all the consequences — of their actions.

For more than seven months, the California Highway Patrol, the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department and other officials planned the event, called "Every 15 Minutes."

The program, which started in 1995 in Chico, is so named because at that time, someone died every 15 minutes in alcohol-related accidents across the country. Now the time has doubled — someone dies every 30 minutes in drunken-driving accidents.

Wednesday's assembly started with a mock 911 call from hysterical student Amber Beasley who, with friend Jessica Hatten, "discovered" the wreck.

The school's loudspeakers broadcast her shrieks of fear.

Within minutes, police cars, ambulances, fire engines and sheriff's cars roared onto the football field, lights flashing and sirens wailing.

Emergency crews went to work. Medics helped move the injured away from the twisted vehicles, applied white gauze bandages to bleeding heads and splints to broken arms and legs.


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