Every 15 Minutes


Grace Marson (12th), Reporter

“Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States dies or is seriously injured by an alcohol-related incident.” Pitman High School juniors and seniors were witnesses to a simulated car crash scene involving five of our students: Armani Bustos, Reyes Garza, Nathaniel Piro, Alyssa Evans, and Colton Salsig. The purpose of this program is to demonstrate the detrimentality of drinking and driving, and how it’s not a matter to joke about. 

To paint the picture for anyone who didn’t view this program, Bustos was the intoxicated driver that caused the collision. She was driving a car that Garza was in the passenger seat of. The car that she ran into held Salsig in the driver seat, Evans in the passenger seat, and Piro in the backseat. Piro and Bustos left their cars with minor injuries, but Garza was killed instantly. Salsig was taken up in a helicopter and taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Evans was taken from the scene in an ambulance where she was also pronounced deceased in the hospital an hour later. Piro was collected by his parents and taken home, traumatized by what he had just been involved in, and Garza was placed in a body bag and taken to the morgue where his parents would later identify him. Lastly, Bustos had to perform a series of tests to see if she was under the influence, and was arrested afterward.

This simulation was extremely graphic and has stayed on the minds of everyone who watched the scene. However, it did not end there. Throughout the day, every 15 minutes someone would be taken from their class by the grim reaper. They then became “the walking dead”. That night, all the participants were unable to use their electronics or have contact with anyone who wasn’t involved. 

The following day, juniors and seniors were invited to a funeral for the deceased. The parents of the walking dead and the victims were invited as well, and a very hard hitting memorial service took place. A video of all the afterward procedures that had to occur for Evans, Salsig, Garza, and Bustos was shown to the students to show how serious these situations really are. They tried to resuscitate Salsig and Evans, but they had no luck. Later in the video, we saw the parents of Salsig, Evans, and Garza identify them and see their children’s condition. The video was incredibly emotional, and a lot of students were shedding tears. 

Also during the funeral, a few of the living dead’s parents were brought up to read a letter they had written for their deceased child. Without having to necessarily know the victim, these letters pulled at the heartstrings of everyone in the crowd. Salsig and another student involved in the living dead, Jayvon Lambert, had read their letters to their family as well, and in my personal opinion, those letters were what made the whole thing even more real. 

Lastly, a guest speaker was invited to give a speech on a situation that had happened to her good friend. Her friend had a very hard life and got herself involved in a toxic relationship. The closest she had ever been with anyone was her father. Her father was her personal hero, and the reason they were able to immigrate to the United States from Vietnam. He had come to live with her and her abusive husband when he unfortunately lost his house, and he saw firsthand how unhealthy their relationship was. Her friend had gotten addicted to alcohol because it was the only way she thought she would be able to escape. One night, she was drinking and she and her husband got into a big fight. She decided she should leave the house and drive somewhere else for the night. Her husband tried continuing the argument outside the house, so she stepped on the gas and hit someone in her driveway. The person was her father trying to stop her from driving while intoxicated. At the end of the guest speaker’s story, she took off her clothes to reveal an orange jumpsuit. Her friend was actually her. The police put her in handcuffs and later escorted her back to her cell. 

This entire program was insanely sad, emotional, vulnerable, and, in my opinion, traumatizing. Being a viewer, I was incredibly impacted by this simulation, especially having been close to all the people who participated in it. However, I wanted to wrap up this article with an interview with each of the five main participants, as well as one of the living dead. I asked each of them to provide a statement of their experience behind the scenes, and what impact this program had on  each of them.


“I feel like as the living dead, it was kind of strange because I didn’t think that people would think I was actually dead. I realized that once people started seeing the tombstones, it started making an impact. Even  though they saw me, it was so devastating to see that somebody could be gone [when] you just saw them. It’s just eye opening to show how much one person could make an impact on so many people. It shows that even though you might not think you’re the most well known person or you don’t have that many friends, a lot of people still care about you. You could have little to no contact with these people and it just shows [that] everyone has a heart. Even though you have no association with these people, you still matter. I had people texting me saying that seeing [my] tombstone made [them] cry and even when we were having our speeches, [they] knew it was fake but hearing [us] talk about it really made [them] bawl [their] eyes out right there in the gym. It was just a new experience that I’ll never forget and it just helps people realize that there are dangers in the world and no person is exempt from being faced with that. I feel like it was definitely an experience worthwhile and I’m glad the school decided to do it. I would definitely do it again if I had to, because it was definitely very educational for everybody.”  says Lambert.


Salsig spoke about his experience as well. When I asked him these same questions, he said, “Definitely for me, the ‘Every 15 Minutes’ program was definitely a positive experience overall. For me, it really put the situation into perspective in the fact that anything could happen. Being involved in the car crash really made me understand not only the consequences for drinking and driving, but how it can affect the person that gets hit. It really just put me in a sense that I feel like I could be a voice if anyone has any questions about it. I feel like I could be a gateway for anyone who has any questions and help them understand what I have experienced.” 


Piro stated, “Overall I had a really great experience in more ways than one way. It made me mature and think of situations differently. I consider the risk factor more than I did before. I think just overall it  opens my eyes a little bit in terms of seeing situations for what they really are and considering every possibility. I feel like I matured from this but I did really enjoy the experience.” 


“This impacted me a lot; doing this was a good experience. I feel like It was much needed to see and to experience as a person. It made it even more real that my best friend was the one in the other car. It was just an overall crazy experience and I didn’t really expect it to be the way that it was.” says Evans.


“Honestly, every time that I go driving I’m very cautious. Nothing that I don’t do that’s against the law in the car anymore. Keep seeing pictures of what it looked like And I couldn’t imagine doing that to someone So I can’t have that happen. Honestly, it was really cool… The way we did everything and had gotten to talk to people who had experienced up like that was really eye opening.” Garza remarked. 


I asked Bustos what the hardest thing she had to do was, and she replied, “Although my friends didn’t actually face such a tragic accident, the hardest thing was facing all the guilt of that situation. I hope no one ever has to live with that guilt and you can easily stop yourself from getting to that point by making that one right choice. To whoever thought it was just a waste of time, and would joke [about it], even if it didn’t impact you the way it  impacted other people, I still hope you know better. Other people have actual experiences… situations that they [should] take into consideration so that we can all prevent these collisions.” 


Overall, this experience was insanely impactful for not only those who had to watch the whole thing unfold, but those who participated in it as well. “Every 15 Minutes” is a program meant to show the detrimentality of driving under the influence, and I hope everyone who saw the seriousness of the situation first hand is inspired to do the right thing.