NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOTV) The community of North Muskegon came together to show students the dangers of drinking and driving and texting and driving. The program “Every 15 Minutes” is based on the fact that in the United States, someone dies from a drunk driving-related crash every 15 minutes. The national program offers real life experience without real life risks. It’s a dramatic reminder for teens of the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking and driving or texting while driving, and challenges them to make good choices.
North Muskegon puts every resource into creating a realistic experience for teens, involving the schools, the city manager, police and fire departments, the court system, hospitals, and parents. The program demonstrates to students that one second can change everything, and can impact so many lives.
If we can make a difference for one kid, that’s what the program is about.” Heidi Sunderhaft Christiansen, North Muskegon High School Principal
Men dressed the Grim Reaper go into classrooms at North Muskegon High School every 15 minutes and escort out a student. That student’s face is painted to look ashen and “dead.” They put their picture and a date of death on their locker and a police officer and pastor go into the classroom to announce the student has been killed. When the student goes back to class, they do not interact with other students.
During lunch hour, a mock car crash is set up a block away from the school. After lunch, the school PA system plays the sounds of a violent crash and police being dispatched. Students are dismissed to the scene, where they see what appears to be a crash between two cars. Police, fire, and ambulance respond to the scene with lights and sirens, as they would in real life.
At the crash scene, one teenager is pronounced dead and is taken away in a body bag. Another teenager has a very serious injury that results in paralysis. Another teen passes away at the hospital. The teen playing the drunk driver undergoes field sobriety test and is arrested.
Tune in to Maranda Where You Live tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5 for part two of Every 15 Minutes. Watch as students see the consequences of their peers’ actions from death to the courtroom to the parents’ reactions. It starts at 7 p.m. on WOTV 4 Women.
For resources on how parents can talk to teenagers about substance abuse and making good decisions, click here.