The Santa Clara Police Department delivered some upsetting news on May 1 to several Santa Clara families. Fortunately, every family knew that they were participating in Santa Clara High School’s Every 15 Minutes program, and what would happen for the next 48 hours was an enactment of what happens when a teenager is killed in a drunk driving accident.
However, even though the news was false, its impact wasn’t. Such was the case of Angelina Fraire. She was at work in San Jose when the Santa Clara Police arrived. She met them and they chatted comfortably as they went to somewhere private to talk. Fraire acknowledged she knew why the police officers were there. Everything seemed like a normal conversation. All that changed in an instant.
In less than three minutes in San Jose, Fraire got a chance to understand what it would be like if her daughter, Bianca, a senior at Santa Clara High School, had lost her life as the result of a drunk driving accident.
“Unfortunately, we’re here to let you know your daughter Bianca was involved in a DUI collision today and unfortunately, she did not make it.”
On hearing those words, even though she knew they weren’t actually true, tears welled up in her eyes, her words came out intermixed with sobs, and it was hard to catch her breath as the news sunk into her. Santa Clara Police Chaplain Ryan Wright told Fraire what the next steps would be if her daughter had really died.
“How do you feel?” Wright asked. “[I] Can’t think,” Fraire responded. “I didn’t think it was … I pictured it as something different. I assumed it wouldn’t be so…I’m trying to think back to this morning and what she wore.”
When someone asked Fraire, “How did you feel right when they told you – you had a very strong reaction,” the experience was so visceral she found it hard to put into words. “That I…my heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe and then my first reaction in my head was: Are you sure it’s my baby? I [felt] kind of numb. I realized that I take her for granted. My chest felt really heavy. My heart sunk.”
“That’s a very typical reaction,” Wright explained. “It’s not uncommon to have the response you just had – you realized the reality of this could be. Nothing’s wrong with you. It’s a good thing.”
“It’s a good exercise and the [good] things is, we get to hit the reset button,” said Wright. “This is a reality to someone in our society – every 15 minutes someone in the United States is killed in a drunk driving accident.”
The ‘reset’ Wright pointed out is that Fraire and the other Santa Clara High School families were able to return to their normal routines after the two-day program.
The Every 15 Minutes program program’s purpose is to help students and parents understand how often a life is lost as a result of someone driving while drunk. For more information, visit www.every15minutes.com.