CREATED Mar. 8, 2013
PALM DESERT--As friends and family mourn the loss of Victor Regalado Junior, the 18-year-old killed in a suspected drunk driving accident Sunday, a group of former Palm Desert High School students are warning freshmen about the incredible dangers of drinking and driving.
It's all part of their "Every 15 Minutes" program to bring awareness to the dangers of driving under the influence.
"Today is not about you hanging out listening to stories with mostly happy endings," Dennis Devlin a Palm Desert High School Teacher explained to his students.
Students heard real-life horror stories from Palm Desert High School Alumni who survived drunk driving accidents.
"Two of us, myself and another made a bad decision to drink and drive or at least be in a car with someone who did," drunk driving accident survivor Park Randazzo said. "We were both in a coma for a while and had some pretty traumatic circumstances."
Randazzo was in a coma suffering a traumatic brain injury. He's been speaking to students for years hoping they won't make the same bad decisions he did. The news of Victor Regalado Junior's death hits very close to home.
"Every year that we come back it's like a new family. Like this whole Shadow Hills thing, and it's just sad and it's upsetting and you see it repeated every year again and again," Randazzo said.
Randazzo and fellow survivor Karissa McGinness are hoping that by hearing about their horrific accidents, this group of students won't make the same mistakes.
"Maybe if we share our story then some of the kids will make a better decision than we did. So that's why we're here," Randazzo said.
Karissa McGinness was also in a drunk driving accident. Her car flipped on interstate 10 and hit the median. She was ejected and stayed in a coma for two and a half months. Her mother says Karissa struggled with even the most basic functions like holding a pencil and remembering to brush her teeth. Things no one should have to deal with.
"If we can touch one child if we can help one person to not get behind the wheel when they've been drinking and driving or to get in the car with anyone under the influence of anything, it's just not worth it, your entire life is changed forever more," Colleen Cosner, the mother of a drunk driving accident survivor said.
Their message is simple, but it still seems to escape so many teens in the heat of the moment. Don't drink and drive.
-- Adrianna Weingold