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November 28, 2014

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Demonstration shows students the deadly effects of drunk driving

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Nicky Fuchs / Special to the Sun

Students from Boulder City High School watch a mock DUI crash on Thursday.

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Justin Jensen is handcuffed by Boulder City Police during a mock crash that was put on Thursday at Boulder City High School. Every 15 minutes someone dies from a DUI related accident. In the back stands the Grim Reaper as a physical representation of how many people died within the time the students were watching the simulation.

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Students from Boulder City High School watch a mock DUI crash on Thursday. Stephanie Boyle, a senior, makes the 911 call while Zack DeSilva, one of the victims, who was projected through a window, lies on the hood of a car.

Wailing police cars and ambulances screeched into a parking lot at Boulder City High School Thursday morning to find a gruesome scene — but thankfully one that was not real.

A mock head-on car collision left a few students bloodied and unconscious and another bloodied and panicked. A crowd of about 300 high school students watched the accident unfold during a dramatic reenactment warning of the potentially fatal risk of drunk driving.

The Boulder City Police Department and Boulder City Fire Department staged the deadly crash as part of Every 15 Minutes, an anti-drunk driving campaign.

Boulder City students portrayed a drunk driver and passenger in one car and three occupants of another car.

Junior Justin Jensen played the drunk driver of a white car that was smashed into a red one. Students arrived at the mess in time to watch Jensen's passenger, senior Stephanie Boyle, make a frantic 911 call.

Four minutes later, the average response time in Boulder City, police and paramedics arrived to survey the situation.

Detective Jeff Grasso, the school resource officer, narrated the outdoor assembly and told the students that someone died in an alcohol-related car accident every 15 minutes in 2007.

No Boulder City High School student has died in a drunk driving accident in at least three years, Police Chief Thomas Finn said.

But today, Zeckariah DeSilva was covered with a tarp and wheeled into a Boulder City Mortuary hearse. The coroner and police detectives photographed his motionless body on the hood of a car and on a stretcher.

Firefighters pried junior Steven Reed from the back seat of a car with the Jaws of Life as Jensen, who admitted to drinking beer before driving, failed a DUI test.

In addition to the mock car crash, 15 students lined up behind a person dressed as the Grim Reaper to represent the people who die every 15 minutes in such wrecks.

"I hope I never have to make that knock on your parents' door to come identify your body," Grasso said. "If you think it won't happen to you, think again."

Clayton Anglese, a junior in the audience, said he knew most of the kids involved in the fake accident. "It makes you think," he said.

Jensen said he was unwittingly pulled out of class to act in the Every 15 Minutes program. He said it was a life-changing experience.

"It was weird wearing handcuffs and looking out from the inside of that cop car," he said. "I hope everyone was affected."

Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or [email protected].

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