Shattered dreams: Mock DUI crash scene hits hard against teen drinking in North Tahoe |

Shattered dreams: Mock DUI crash scene hits hard against teen drinking in North Tahoe

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

Jason Shueh/Sierra SunWith one arm dangling outside the window, Emily Ashbaugh, a junior at North Tahoe High School, plays an accident victim in the school's Shattered Dreams dramatization against drinking and driving.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Tightening the handcuffs against a driver’s wrist, California Highway Patrol officer Travis Miller surveys the crash scene: Fire crews are cutting away torn metal to extract trapped accident victims, paramedics strapping the victims to gurneys and#8212; and all against a curved wall of student onlookers.

The recent scene was part of North Tahoe High School’s two-day Shattered Dreams, a program to deter students from underage drinking by using a live crash scene dramatization and#8212; complete with student victims and#8212; and speakers preaching against teen alcohol abuse.

Placer County Sheriff Department’s Community Services Officer Melinda Maehler, the director of the crash site, said the program began in 1998 both at Truckee and North Tahoe high schools to discourage students from drinking and driving on prom night.

and#8220;I think that the kids are more appreciative when they can see what law enforcement, fire and the other emergency services have to go through for something like this,and#8221; Maehler said.

Maehler said having the dramatization makes the scene palpable for students who may have only heard about accidents but never witnessed them firsthand.

and#8220;It was a great experience for the kids and a great experience for everyone in general to see how an accident scene happens, and how we deal with DUI subjects,and#8221; Miller said.

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Like Maehler, Miller said he hopes the experience serves as a turning point for many teens when they are inevitably confronted with alcohol.

and#8220;A lot of this is the experience, showing that this can happen, and it can happen to them,and#8221; he said.

Rory O’Boyle, a senior and board president of North Tahoe’s Youth in Action, a student group against underage drinking, said the long hours helping to coordinate the crash scene are worth the effort.

When asked if O’Boyle feels drinking is an issue at North Tahoe High School, he paused, then said: and#8220;Yes.and#8221;

and#8220;It’s just a big impact on you when you think that that person could be me, that that could happen to me,and#8221; O’Boyle said about Shattered Dreams. and#8220;And it definitely has an impact on the drinkers at our school.and#8221;