Late last month, three high school students from Los Alamitos High School were left dead following a DUI-related collision on the corner of Alamitos Boulevard and Cerritos Avenue. At least that’s what Los Alamitos High School wanted to portray with an all-too-real recreation of the aftermath of a DUI-related collision.
The high school, through the program “Every 15 Minutes,” created the scene using funding from the California Highway Patrol, the Los Alamitos Youth Center, and the Seal Beach Lions Club to deter its students from driving while under the influence.
The scene depicted a head-on collision with one vehicle driven by a drunk driver portrayed by Connor Shannon, 18. Kennedi Cantrell, 17, who was one of Shannon’s passengers died at the scene. Another of Shannon’s passengers, Parker Fife, 18, was flown by helicopter to a hospital where he also died.
Hannah Waki, 17, the driver of the other car, was taken by ambulance where she also died. Her passenger, Amanda Jones, 17, suffered a broken neck and, as a result, was left paralyzed.
Professional makeup artists assisted with creating a graphic realism to the simulated injuries. The Orange County Fire Authority provided the ambulance, Mercy Air provided the helicopter, Forest Lawn Cypress provided a hearse which took away one of the victims in a body bag, and Los Alamitos Police Department and CHP provided law enforcement vehicles.
Shannon was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison by a participating judge at the Westminster Courthouse.
The portrayal apparently struck a chord with the students.
“Everybody was crying,” said Lina Lumme, executive director of the Youth Center. “Even though they know it’s simulated, they have been through an emotional roller coaster.”
Let’s hope it worked. Deterrence is always better than punishment.