Every 15 Minutes (Video)
I have spent an emotional two days at Ellsworth High School as part of the Every 15 Minute Program, that was put on by the Ellsworth Police Department and Ellsworth High School. Every 15 minutes, someone dies as a result of an alcohol related crash, and this program brings the message home.
On Wednesday, a Grim Reaper along with a uniformed police officer from the Ellsworth Police Department, Hancock County Sheriff Department, Mount Desert Island Police Department or Maine Drug Enforcement Agency went into classrooms every 15 minutes and pulled out a student. That student became one of the living dead, and their eulogy was read, that was written by their parents, by the uniformed police officer. Meanwhile, uniformed police officers were at parent's homes or place of work notifying them that their child had died in an alcohol related crash. As we went from classroom to classroom, you could hear a pin drop.
After the living dead were pulled from the classrooms, they were given a black Every 15 minute T-Shirt, and faces were painted white to resemble ghosts. They then went back to their classes for the morning, not to speak, not to interact with their classmates or teachers.
At 12 noon, there was the crash in front of the high school. Ellsworth Police, Fire, County Ambulances and two hearses from Jordan Fernald Funeral Home responded. There were two fatalities.Logan Ray Dyer, and Hannah Marie Craig. Two were severely injured and Lizzie Alvarez was paralyzed. Sid St. Peter was under the influence of alcohol. The jaws of life were used to extract the injured, and they were taken to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital. Logan and Hannah were placed in body bags, and their parents saw them placed in the bags. Sid St. Peter was given a set of field sobriety tests, which he failed and was placed under arrest.
He was then transported to Hancock County Jail, given a breathalyzer, fingerprinted, photographed and put into a holding cell. He was then arraigned in court, with the living dead, told he faced three felony counts, and the State argued for a $50,000 bail. His mother was present, along with the living dead.
All the participants then went to Maine Maritime Academy, along with representatives from the Ellsworth Police Department where they spent the night. Everyone spent time writing their parents a letter that began "Dear Mom and Dad, Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an alcohol related traffic collision and today I died. I never got the chance to tell you...."
Today, May 8th, was the funeral in the Ellsworth Auditorium for Logan and Hannah. Two caskets were wheeled in. The Revered Robert Maddocks gave eulogies for the deceased. Logan's and Hannah's letters were read in their own voice, taped over the sound system. Then, Logan's and Hannah's mothers spoke.
Sharon Boynton, the mother of TJ Boynton who tragically passed away from a drunk driving accident on October 20, 2007 spoke. She said how she called his phone to hear his away message, and that the last words she heard him speak was that he wasn't available to take the call and please leave a message. She talked about how his death has impacted her family.
Sid St. Peter spoke. He offered his impressions. I sat with him yesterday during his time in the Hancock County Jail. He was visibly shaken. As we sat down, I said, make sure this is the last time you're in here. He assured me that would be the case, and I believe him.
Finally, there was the reuniting of the living dead, the dead, the injured with their parents, for which there had been no contact for 24 hours. The tears were flowing, the hugs genuine, and we were reminded that this was just a simulation, as the empty caskets were wheeled out.
Personally speaking, I was greatly affected by this program. I have broadcast many basketball, baseball and soccer games that these students have participated in over the last 4 years. I have seen them grow up, and I know many of the parents, teachers, and police officers. This was not an easy program. It made me think of my younger son, and how my wife and I worry when he's out. No parent should EVER have to bury their child. The grief is just too real,and insurmountable.
Many thanks have to be given to the Public Safety Officials involved in the program, the School, the Parents, and the Students who volunteered to take part. This program is offered every other year. Prom is Friday night. Be sure that you watch this video, and read the story, before going out. Think before you drink. Remember, every 15 minutes someone in the United States dies from an alcohol related traffic collision. Don't let it be you!
Special thanks also to the Hancock County Technical Center's Media program. They are wizards with the video technology, and had their You Tube video up way before mine. Their's is what's shown above.