Emily Beaman played the part of a student killed in the accident. Credits: Christy Kass
Firefighters work to extricate Nicole Iannarone and Lauren Ruffo from their car. Credits: Christy Kass
Juniors and seniors at Madison High School took part in "Every 15 Minutes" Monday afternoon. Credits: Christy Kass
The scene included two crashed cars, serious injuries, and a fatality. Credits: Christy Kass
Students with white faces and black t-shirts signified death. Credits: Christy Kass
The crash scene, with Nicole Beaman as the victim under the sheet. Credits: Christy Kass
Madison High School juniors and seniors watched the scene from the sidelines. Credits: Christy Kass
Police, fire and EMTs worked the scene. Credits: Christy Kass
A police officer gives Grant Perry a field sobriety test. Credits: Christy Kass
The Atlantic Air One Medevac helicopter from Morristown Medical Center took one student away. Credits: Christy Kass
Emily Beaman's parents identify her at the scene. Credits: Christy Kass
Death watches as the funeral home loads one of the victims into the hearse. Credits: Christy Kass
The students follow the hearse out of the parking lot. Credits: Christy Kass
Madison Students Participate in 'Every 15 Minutes' Drunk Driving Accident Simulation
Monday, March 19, 2012 • 6:16pm
MADISON, NJ – Amid the smashed-up cars, emergency personnel, blood on the pavement and the medical helicopter slicing through the air over Madison High School was an important lesson about the dangers of drunk driving.
Juniors and seniors took part on Monday in “Every 15 Minutes,” a national program aimed at showing students who are of driving age the grim realities of what can happen if they choose to get behind the wheel after drinking.
Most of the students had not been told ahead of time what was going on. Every 15 minutes – how often statistics say someone is killed in a drunk driving accident – a different student was pulled from class and did not return. Those students were given a black t-shirt and had their faces painted white, signifying that they were dead. They weren’t to speak to anyone. They couldn’t use their phones for anything.
In the middle of the afternoon, the upper classmen moved to the parking lot behind the school where a group of students with the help of the program coordinators had staged a car accident scene. Two cars had crashed head-on. Two girls were in one car, three boys in the other. A classmate (Emily Beaman) lay on the pavement in a pool of blood.
The scene was startlingly realistic. The girls in the car (Nicole Iannarone and Lauren Ruffo) were shaken and weeping. The boy in the passenger side of the other car (Leighton Lassiter) had glass on his forehead and was unconscious. The boy in the backseat (Jamal St. Germain) sustained minor injuries. The driver of the car (Grant Perry), later given a sobriety test and arrested for driving drunk, was wandering about in a daze. Sirens screamed, stretchers were brought out, traffic reports about the accident from New Jersey 101.5 blared over loudspeakers. The Atlantic Air One Medevac helicopter from Morristown Medical Center took Lassiter away. The parents of the girl on the pavement arrived to identify her before a hearse from Madison Memorial Home pulled up. A man dressed as Death watched silently. As the hearse drove away, the white-faced students in their black t-shirts followed in a single file line behind it.
The drama didn’t end in the high school parking lot. The students who were taken to the hospital were actually taken to the hospital. The student who was arrested for drunk driving was taken to court for a hearing.
Monday’s events were sobering, but the assembly at the school this morning imparted a note of reality to a scene that, horrible though it may have been, the students knew was staged. They knew their classmates got up, washed off the blood, and went back to their regular lives. This morning, the upper classmen heard from a woman who lost her 18-year-old daughter to a drunk driver, not long after she participated in the Every 15 Minutes program at her school.
Students from Fairleigh Dickinson University taped the entire exercise, including what happened later at the hospital and in court, and the video was played during this morning’s assembly.
“I think went very well,” said Madison Police Officer Chad Rybka, who coordinated the program. “We certainly caught the kids’ attention. People sometimes say this is to ‘scare them straight,’ but our point is not to scare them. Our point is to show them what real life can be like if you make the choice to drink and drive.”
Driver – Grant Perry
Backseat pass – jamal st. germain