Huntington Beach High School, with the help of M.A.D.D., stages a fake DUI crash during an Every 15 Minutes assembly to educate students about the risks of drunk driving on Wednesday. (KEVIN CHANG, HB Independent / March 27, 2013)

Huntington Beach police and fire departments rushed out to 17th Street next to Huntington Beach High School on Wednesday morning after receiving a call that two cars were involved in a traffic accident, where a driver was believed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Authorities found two cars that sustained heavy damage: an overturned maroon sedan with the driver trapped inside and a silver sedan about 30 yards away, its front end smashed in and a body partially ejected through the front windshield.

A teenage female was found lying in the middle of the street, motionless and covered in blood after being ejected from the overturned vehicle. Bottles of beer were found in the other car, with the driver still conscious, an officer with a microphone said.

Students from the high school lined both sides of 17th Street and watched the reenactment of a DUI crash, a production put on by the Every 15 Minutes program.

A person dies every 15 minutes from an alcohol-related traffic accident, said Kristen Kaa, an English teacher at Huntington and one of the organizers of the program.

Each school in the district holds this event every four years to try and educate students about the dangers of drunk driving, Assistant Principal Jason Ross said.

"It's difficult because these kids think they're invincible," Kaa said. "They don't think it's ever going to happen to anyone that they know."

Kaa had help from Ross, Huntington Beach High PTSA President Gina Gleason, the local police and fire departments, CHP and a local mortuary, she said.

For the past three months, they have been organizing the three-day event, which included a parent meeting, the simulation and an assembly with guest speakers who have been affected by drunk drivers.


Parent meeting

Gleason was adamant about having a parent meeting and workshop prior to the staged accident after the City Council recently adopted a new social hosting ordinance, which would fine those who knowingly serve alcohol to underage partygoers.

"We thought a critical piece that would be missing from the Every 15 Minutes program was a parent piece, so that we could get every parent here to really be educated," she said. "We get so desensitized over time about what the issues are and how bad it really could be."

More than 300 parents gathered in the student center at Huntington Beach High on Tuesday night, with many parents having to stand in the back.

Parents flinched and moaned as they watched the video produced for Edison High School's Every 15 Minutes program, which included graphic scenes of glass shards sticking out of the students' bodies.

Some parents cried after Jenna Serna, a junior at Edison, spoke about her brother, Michael, who drove while intoxicated and was killed after losing control of his vehicle and hitting a metal pole.

"He made one last stupid decision and not only ruined his life, but put his friends and family through a never-ending nightmare," she said.

Representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Huntington Beach Police officers further encouraged parents to prevent drunk driving among their youth.

"I get called out in the middle of the night. The sergeant calls me and tells me we got one. I've handled triple fatals. That's why I don't go do these assemblies anymore," Officer Robert Barr said, who used to attend the reenactments. "I don't need to see this anymore. I've seen too much."

Resident Suzanne Wood, whose 18-year-old child attends Huntington, believes that the intended affects of the program will hit home for the children, and even she made a realization during the meeting.