At approximately 11:15 AM last Thursday, two vehicles occupied by several high school students were involved in a head-on collision on Spruce Street directly in front of Gridley High School.
Students began to gather in front of the school, witnessing the tragedy unfold as law enforcement, firefighters, and other emergency responders arrived at the scene with sirens blazing. The students watched in horror as several of their classmates were pulled from the two crumpled vehicles, bloody and contorted.
At approximately 11:15 AM last Thursday, two vehicles occupied by several high school students were involved in a head-on collision on Spruce Street directly in front of Gridley High School. Students began to gather in front of the school, witnessing the tragedy unfold as law enforcement, firefighters, and other emergency responders arrived at the scene with sirens blazing. The students watched in horror as several of their classmates were pulled from the two crumpled vehicles, bloody and contorted. Two of the students’ bodies were immediately covered in a yellow sheet, later declared dead at the scene, while another was arrested by the Gridley-Biggs Police Department when it was discovered that he had been driving under the influence. Another victim, who had sustained serious injuries was transported in an emergency vehicle to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. With sirens piercing the afternoon air, all that remained at the scene of the accident was the twisted metal of two vehicles, monumenting the tragic occasion like two mangled statues. Fortunately, the tragic accident scene students had witnessed was a staged production, part of the “Every 15 Minutes” program. The event was put on in the hope that a real tragedy of this nature is prevented in the future, especially in the spring months as students are celebrating prom, graduation, and their journey into adulthood while alcohol-related accidents and casualties are usually on the rise. The next day, Day Two of the “Every 15 Minutes” Program involved an assembly dedicated to the somber reflection of the previous day’s heartbreaks. The focus of the assembly stresses that the decision to consume alcohol affects many more people than just the one who drinks and drives. The very emotional and heart-wrenching event illustrates to students the potentially dangerous costs of the use of alcohol while driving. As students filled the darkened Farmers Hall, walking past a closet casket before they sat in the bleachers, “Amazing Grace” was played on the bagpipes—giving the event even more realism. At the start of the assembly, Live Oak High School principal Tony Walton introduced students to former student Eddie Salazar, a 2010 graduate of Live Oak High School. Walton briefly told students about Salazar’s life, how he enjoyed playing linebacker for the Lions and was even looked at by a school in southern California, and then he turned the microphone over to his former student to give students a first-hand account of the dangers of drinking and driving. Salazar, now 22, used a walker to assist him move slowly toward the podium before speaking to students about how his life had changed because of drinking and driving. He told students how in September 2010, months after graduation, Salazar and eight friends piled into a vehicle and headed down a gravel road after a night of partying. "I was young, indestructible and slightly on the wild side,” Salazar said. “I wasn't worried about the danger." He explained that the heavily intoxicated driver of the SUV lost control of the vehicle, which slid into a ditch before rolling multiple times. The accident resulted in Salazar breaking nearly every bone in his body. He now has a shunt in his brain, a stent in his kidney, an 18-inch titanium brace in his spine, and a valve in his heart. He has a large scar on his head from two brain surgeries, and he has to be on medication the rest of his life to keep him alive. Students then watched a video documenting the accident that took place the previous day. ... ... For the rest of the article, pick up a copy of the May 22, 2013 issue of the Gridley Herald.