With prom 11 days away, South Pasadena High School kids have lots of decisions to make: Dresses, tuxes, shoes. Hair appointments or do-it-yourself 'dos?
Then, of course, there's transportation. Rent a limo? Ride with Friends?
But one choice they hopefully had a little help with Tuesday, as one student lay beneath an overturned car behind the campus, and another lay motionless beneath a white sheet, is not to drink and drive. The students participated in the national program, "Every 15 Minutes,'' which teaches teens about the often horrific consequences of consuming alcohol and driving.
At 11 a.m. South Pasadena Police officers and firefighters roared Code 3 to Rollin Street and Diamond Avenue where they found two students heaped onto the pavement, the driver of another car impaired, and the fourth student lifeless.
After climbing out of a crunched vehicle, 18-year-old Alessio Guerra wobbled through the field sobriety test before officers handcuffed the senior and tucked him into the back of a patrol car. Detective John Salcido drove away as another officer told the sizeable crowd of juniors and seniors: One arrested, DUI.
Guerra said although he was assigned the role of drunk driver for Tuesday's demonstration, it was the one he had wanted. He assumed it would be pretty memorable.
"That was intense... the experience of having to live with something like that, that weighs you down and makes you realize you don't want this to ever happen to anyone else,'' he said, massaging his wrist from where the handcuffs rubbed.
It's a feeling he won't soon forget, he said.
SPHS participates in "Every 15 Minutes'' every two years. Other components of the program include a "grim reaper" picking students out of class, students coming back from the dead in white makeup, and even mock death notifications to participating parents.