Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials are hosting an “emotionally charged” program to dramatically instill the dangers of impaired driving, at Valencia High on Thursday.
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The state’s Office of Traffic Safety funds the program with a grant through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Highway Patrol and the city of Santa Clarita.
The program is organized by Sheriff’s Station Deputy Deanna Santino, who coordinates the effort with law enforcement officials, Los Angeles County Fire Department and a representative for the county Coroner’s Office.
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“They’re going to listen to their peers, and that’s what we do,” Santino said, in a previous interview. “We get the message to them through their peers.”
Santino, who has been involved in the program for several years, said she can see how the tragic lesson can make an impact on the students.
“You get everything,” she said, of the students’ reactions. “Initially, some will take it very seriously, and some will, as soon as we remove a student from the classroom they’ll cry. Sometimes, initially it’s joking, but as the day progresses, the mood of the whole school becomes more somber, and they take it a lot more seriously.”
Deputies host the program to “drive” the message home, according to a Sheriff’s Station news release.
Several students will be taken from classes on Thursday, as if they had been “lost” in a tragic incident. They will be joined by other student program participants at a driving under the influence simulated collision scene, which will be set up near the school for the students to view, depicting fatalities and serious injuries to several students, according to a news release.
During many of the programs, the Air-5 rescue helicopter from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Aero Bureau is used to simulate an airlift of a critically injured student to a local hospital. Several other “injured” students will be treated at the scene by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and taken to a local hospital. The drunk driver will be arrested and will be taken to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Santa Clarita, where a simulated conviction for manslaughter will occur.
Guest speakers alsp speak to program participants at the Youth Grove.
The students involved in the two-day program will then visit a local hotel for dinner, where community members who have experienced real-life drunk driving related tragedies in their family and counselors will speak to them about how it feels to lose a loved one in a drunk driving related incident.
The student participants will also draft a letter to be given to their parents that begins with this phrase: “Yesterday I was killed by a drunk driver and I never got to tell you….”
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Source: Santa Clarita News