Four times each hour.
That is how often one of the nation's youth loses their life to an alcohol-related accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol was a factor in approximately 60 percent of all fatal car crashes during prom or graduation weekend, in comparison to 41 percent for the entire year of 2000.
T-R PHOTO BY TAMMY R. LAWSON
Marshalltown firefighters and EMT personnel stabilize a 'passenger' who was thrown from a vehicle.
And this is the directive Marshalltown High School wanted to convey to its seniors Thursday, presenting a sobering dramatization of what can happen when you drink and get behind the wheel.
During the eleventh annual "Every 15 Minutes" presentation, students witnessed a mock drunk-driving accident in the Auditorium parking lot, focusing on a two-car collision and its aftermath.
"We want to send a message of the importance of life and celebrating in an appropriate way," said Principal Bonnie Lowry. "We hope that all students will take it to heart and for those who make some inappropriate choices, their peers will help them make the right ones."
Complete with law enforcement, firefighters and EMT personnel, both juniors and seniors performed the sobering reenactment as various teenagers watched - and wiped away tears.
"Students are able to see their friends, first-hand, through the actions of what unfortunately happens in real life sometimes," said Officer John Augustine.
Scenes involved an intoxicated driver, the outcome and stabilizing seriously injured patients, as well as death and eulogies to loved ones departed.
Its purpose was to encourage students not to drink and drive or get into a vehicle with an inebriated escort, Lowry said, and she hopes the exhibition drove a point home.
"The decisions they make, in regard to using substances and driving, put them at risk and if they happen to be a survivor - even the bystanders who see what's happened - they are still the victims," she said. "Don't make a poor decision in the times when you're celebrating good things."
Marshalltown Police and Fire Departments, Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, Pursel-Davis Funeral Home and other various businesses assisted or contributed to the event.
"It's one of the best ways we can get some of the student body in one location to show them how important it is not to partake in activities that might be considered popular to other students," said Firefighter Dave Beightol. "There can be serious repercussions."
Contact Tammy R. Lawson at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org