Steam rises from the hood as a faint wail can be heard off in the distance. Sound is muffled, vision distorted he doesn’t understand the images placed before his eyes. A kaleidoscope of colors passing through a spiderweb prism is all he can associate. Looking to his right he finds a pair of shoes. Not just any shoes but the Sketchers he bought his girlfriend for her 16th birthday. Why? He wonders. Why are they there on the seat of my car and how are they standing on their toes. The improbability of shoes standing on their toes is more than his mind can process. He shakes his head trying to clear the cobwebs but the alcohol in his system wont let it happen. So he stares at the pink Sketchers in disbelief.
The pink Sketchers he bought his girlfriend on her 16th birthday are in fact not standing on their toes. They are still connected to her feet, feet that lead to her legs, legs that stretch through the windshield of his 2004 Nissan where she lay motionless on the hood. Dying. The girl he loves is dying on the very hood that steam now rises from while a faint wail can be heard in the distance.
She cant seem to make it stop. She doesn’t remember taking a nap, but now that she has found peaceful slumber she only wishes for what ever is dripping on her face to quit! She dreams of water or syrup sliding across her eyes. Swatting at the sticky substance she is not sure whether its real or part of her warm comfortable dream. Then she feels it, starting out as a low uncomfortable burning, her dream translates it into fire. Surrounding her, leaving her trapped yet somehow she knows better, fighting resisting the dream. Her eyes finally opened by the rush of adrenaline surging through her system, brought forward by the searing pain across her face. The sticky substance now identified is blood! She screams then screams again, taking in all the air her lungs will allow. Her seat is covered in blood, the dashboard is covered in blood, her clothes are covered in blood. Wait a minute; she thinks to herself. Calm down and relax; is all she can say. Her dads voice ringing in her ears for all the times she felt panicked and he calmed her down with those four little words. Honey just “calm down and relax”. She remembers getting in the car with her friend, they were headed to a friend’s house for a study group.. Wait her friend! He was driving them! She slowly turns to the left and its then her world is changed forever!
She now knows where the blood is from, oh sure some is from the head wound that burns across her scalp. But the majority is from him. He lies motionless against the door pillar, color gone from his face, lips barren and dry, a sandy glaze across the whites of his eyes he breathes no more. Still, lifeless, anything but the laughing energetic young man he was a mere 5 minutes ago. She screams for him to wake, he doesn’t budge. She slaps his face praying for a reaction! Anything! Anger and fear rip through her as she comes to realize he will never wake up, never move again, the charming, smart, dorky boy she had known since 5th grade was gone forever. She lays against him crying. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she cries.
The faint wail off in the distance is not a wounded animal, it doesn’t come from a piece of machinery or a child who has just been punished it comes from a shadow, a silhouette, an anomaly spread out on the pavement 25 yards away. It twitches and writhes this anomaly of disproportion. The top half in a serious battle with the bottom half. A losing battle from what can be gathered at first sight. This shadow seems to be swimming on pavement, for it surrounded by liquid. A red lake that ripples with the breeze it appears to be flowing to the lowest level it can reach. Moving closer we see the shadow, the anomaly is wearing softball gear. A bat off to the right a cleat off to the left stuck in the center of what appears to be a childs water-color. Smeared across hot black asphalt lay various shades of red. She doesn’t know why she is face down and can’t move her lower half. She doesn’t understand why she is vomiting non stop. She feels a “fight or flight” reaction that she can’t control. Like a trapped animal she howls, claws and fights against the chains that bind her to this place. An abdomen that wont flex, a pair of legs grotesquely deformed, rotated and broken, she fights. She has fought her whole life against those who said she couldn’t. She has fought her whole life to achieve her small successes in school , at home and on the field of play, now she fights purely for her life. She cannot move anymore yet she still fights..
He has shaken the cobwebs and moved beyond the pink Sketchers. Trembling with fear he opens the car door and stands up to survey the origin of steam rising off the front of his car. He cannot believe what lays before his still blurry eyes. Two vehicles are heavily damaged, the front end on his car is folded up like a piece of paper, his girlfriend lay on the hood. Bleeding. Unconscious. It appears he has struck another car in the driver’s door. A portion of the drivers head lays split open on the center post of the car. It appears another occupant, most likely a female is crying and shaking the driver looking for a response. As he walks around the front of his car, pulling out his cell phone he see’s a bloody pile of clothing fighting against itself on the street off in the distance. It also appears to be a female and she has a bat, glove and is missing her shoes??
What has he done? How did this happen? It was only minutes ago he was at a party, laughing, drinking and having a good time with his girlfriend. What is he going to tell his parents? What is he going to tell her parents? This can’t be happening he is going to college in 6 weeks! What does this mean for his future? It was only a couple of drinks right? He tells himself he is fine and there is no way the cops will ever know..
He makes the call to 911…
Every 15 minutes a person is involved in an alcohol related accident. This is the premise of the Every 15 Minutes program held at high schools across the country prior to Senior Prom and Graduation. Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors. The program challenges them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the responsibility of making the right decisions. The program also focuses on the impact these choices make on family, friends and the community.
The story I wrote above was about our scenario today April 26th 2012. It is an re-enactment or compilation of many accidents I have responded to over the years. For as the Every 15 Minutes program has an impact on the children and their families. Drinking and driving has an impact on all first responders. The firefighters, the police officers, the ambulance crews and the hospital personnel who fight for your child or family members life. People who are advocates for their survival. These are images I carry with me always. Images I can’t erase or just forget! People whose lives were changed forever from one poorly made decision. I remember them all and share them with you so you will remember to never get behind the wheel of a car after you have been drinking.
Dont drink and drive.
All pictures are of high school actors who volunteered to help raise awareness to teenage drinking and driving. I am very proud to be a part of the Every 15 Minutes program and the lasting effect it has on our participants, their family members and the audience that witnesses the event.