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High school students experience grim reality of drinking and driving

Students experience grim reality of drinking and driving

POCATELLO, Idaho - The grim reaper paid a visit to the students at Highland High School Tuesday afternoon as part of the annual "Every 15 Minutes" program.

This national program aims to teach students about what the harsh reality drinking and driving could result in.

The Pocatello Police Department's Lieutenant Paul Manning said this full-scale, staged yet realistic scenario hopefully sticks with students for years to come.

"You try to put this message out to them early on," Manning said. "That carries throughout their life instead of waiting until they are older and then they learn, literally, the hard way."

Countywide law enforcement and emergency personnel responded to the scene, along with the Life Flight helicopter, reacting as if the situation were real.

The students watched nearby behind yellow caution tape, as some of their friends who were covered in fake blood, cuts and bruises were being pried out of cars by the jaws of life, while others were being zipped into body bags.

Manning said the idea behind this program is, every 15 minutes, someone in the United States is killed in a drunk driving accident. 

One student even dressed as the grim reaper and pulled one student out of class every 15 minutes throughout the day leading up to the drill, signifying the cause.

Manning said every year he will occasionally receive phone calls from parents, concerned the drill is too disturbing for their kids.

"It's a harsh drill, but it's one that will hopefully stick with them," Manning said.

He said he hopes this drill opens the eyes of many before they get behind the wheel after drinking.

"If we quit doing it (the program), (the problem) is probably going to get worse. But if we keep doing it, we are making an effort and we are doing what we can to protect the community."

Highland High School senior Marisa McNatt said this drill hit home after two of her friends were killed in an accident on New Year's Eve.

"It was a shock," McNatt said. "When I looked over at them and saw the girl out of the car, it made me tear-up."

Stan's Pro Tows owner Doug Henson helps out with this drill every year ever since his own daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2010.

He brings along her car that he normally displays outside of his shop as not only a memorial to her, but also as a way to remind drivers the seriousness behind drinking and driving.

"I deal with accidents all the time, but then when it comes home to roost with you, you realize it is that much more important," Henson said.

Henson has been traveling around the state as an advocate fighting against drinking and driving.

"We just need to show everyone this is what happens when you drink and drive. You just can't get in a car if you have been drinking."

Henson estimates 60 cars each month are towed-in for DUI's in Pocatello alone.

On Wednesday, Highland High School will hold an assembly to better educate students about why Tuesday's drill is significant.

Every year the program rotates through: Highland, Century, Pocatello, and Marsh Valley high school.

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