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Boca students see the deadly reality of drinking and driving

Mock crash program kicks year off at West Boca HS
Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 20:18:22-04

We know it's hard to get a teenager's attention. Even harder to keep it.

On Tuesday, first responders, the people who answer every drunk driving call, teamed up with student actors to show a group of teenagers how one bad decision can kill.

West Boca Raton Community High School senior Kevin Castillo lays on the hood of a car. He's been ejected through a windshield. His friends, clad in prom attire, are covered in blood, crying. The driver has been arrested for drunk driving.

By the end of it, Castillo is hauled away in a body bag.

"It was something really intense, but I'm glad to be a part of it in order to show them that this isn't a joke," he told WPTV's Alanna Quillen after the re-enactment.

This scene is played out at most high schools every year around this time but for Castillo, the consequences are very real. He recently lost a friend in a crash.

"I know how emotional it can be to lose someone so close to you," he said. "It's like, wow, this could actually happen to someone like me."

The program involved real emergency response units, policemen, a funeral hearse, and even an arresting officer booking a drunk teen driver. 

"It's pretty surreal to think about, that this actually does happen to people. That people have the mentality to think it's okay to drink and drive," said Sydney Michalak, a West Boca High School junior who portrayed the driver during the program.

The actors are students with the EMS program at the high school. Other students also portrayed the rescue crews, assisting Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies during the mock car crash.

"It was very scary. Hopefully this doesn't happen to me in real life," said Marina Kaisar, a junior.

The statistics are sobering: Drunk driving killed 797 people in Florida last year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). That's up 15 percent from 2015.

It's an ugly trend that program organizers like Irv Slosberg hope to put the brakes on. He started the Dori Saves Lives Foundation in memory of his daughter, Dori Slosberg.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't a show for someone like me. I lost my daughter in a car crash," he said. "It's unbelievable what can happen. You just can't make bad decisions."

David Summers with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, is spearheading the mock crash programs throughout the area. He's seen a lot as a trauma nurse for over three decades.

"People have died. People have been traumatically injured, had traumatic brain injuries. Things that they can't recuperate from. Things that we know could have been prevented," he said. "Kids that have gone out partying. They had been drinking. They figure, who is the least drunk here? The least drunk person will take the keys thinking they are the designated driver."

Summers said the program works. He's heard back from students who saw the program years ago and have been influenced by the message.

"They've come back to me while they've been in college and said, 'Hey, I saw one of your programs a few years ago. I was in a situation in college, I remembered your presentation. I remembered the crash scene. I took my friend's car keys away because they had been drinking.'" said Summers. "It's hard to measure, but we've saved lives."

Summers added that distracted driving from text messaging and other technology is another major problem that needs to stop.
 
In 2016, Palm Beach County had a total number of 27, 807. Of those, about 11,000 involved injuries. About 16,500 people were injured in crashes, with 168 people killed. Click here to see more statistics.

Student Dario Mendoza Loor, who portrayed one of the friends in the crashed car, said he will think twice about drinking.

"In the end, you're the one paying the consequences. You're the one that would probably, God forbid -- end up dead or in the hospital," he said. "There's so many good memories around the corner. You have college, your life. Basically, your profession. And you don't want to jeopardize any of that."

Program organizers plan to visit eight more schools in Palm Beach County by the school year.

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