Drunk driving program is powerful reminder for teens

"Every 15 Minute" teens in courtroom


NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOTV) The entire community of North Muskegon came together to show students the dangers of drinking and driving and texting and driving. According to the national program “Every 15 Minutes,” someone dies from an alcohol-related accident every 15 minutes. Students at North Muskegon High School participated in the program that offers real life experience without real life risks. It is designed to be a dramatic reminder for teens of the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking and driving or texting while driving.

On the first day, students involved in the program participated in a simulated series of risky behaviors. The next phase shows the consequences of those actions.

At a simulated crash scene, one teenager is pronounced dead. The North Muskegon Police Chief traveled to the teen’s house to notify her parents.

“The emotion is real because the thought of her not being here breaks my heart.” Michelle Klanke, “Victim’s” mother

Students injured in the simulated accident were transported by ambulance to Mercy Hospital. Doctors delivered the devastating news that another teen died from her injuries and another was paralyzed.

The teen playing the drunk driver was taken to the Muskegon County Jail where he was booked and charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death and one count of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury. In the courtroom, parents of the students injured and killed were allowed to make statements toward the driver. In the end, he was sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison.

“It definitely is an eye opener.” Kiernan Pitts, “Drunk Driver”

Parents and students involved in the program were asked to write letters to each other with their reactions to the events, including an obituary.

For resources on how parents can talk to teenagers about substance abuse and making good decisions, click here.

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