April 17, 2008 one of our local high schools decided to put on a simulation called Every 15 Minutes. I was asked to volunteer to take photographs for the Placentia Neighborhood Watch. It was quite an elaborate production. Here is just a partial list of participants:
- El Dorado High School faculty and students.
- Placentia Police.
- Orange County Fire Authority.
- Placentia Neighborhood Watch.
- High school parents.
The purpose of the simulation was to drive home the fact that many of the students that viewed the simulation had a chance of dying because of drinking alcohol and driving a vehicle.
A faculty member was made up to be the Grim Reaper and was sent to classrooms to collect students that were picked to simulate a student dying every 15 minutes. A gong sound was played over the public address system for the whole campus to hear. When I accompanied the Grim Reaper to my first classroom, to take pictures, a whole number of students were crying, quite emotional. A faculty member accompanies the Grim Reaper and while in the classroom reads a biography of the student picked to become dead. The student walks out with the Grim Reaper and sent to the faculty lounge where white face paint is applied. They go back to class but are instructed to not talk to anyone, walking dead.
Two automobiles that were previously in a crash were towed to the front of the campus, in the middle of the street. Students that were made up to have suffered injuries and death were put into the cars. Junior and senior students were sent out of the campus grounds to view the “crash”. A smoke bomb was set off on the far side of the vehicles. Fire and police rolled up with sirens. A public address system provided to the crowd what the student actor who survived the crash said and bystanders responding.
The fire fighters had to cut off the top of the car to extricate a “dead” body, actually a student actor.
That body was placed on a gurney and then placed in a hearse and driven away. In the image below we see firefighters kneeling beside the dead body.
In a few minutes a plastic tarp goes over the body and then placed in a hearse and driven away.
I was mightily impressed with the crash site simulation. As I scanned the crowd of student faces, I could see that they were mesmerized with this effort.
When one covers an event like this, the likelihood that you will come up with an image that impresses you is directly related to the number of images you take. Out of 214 images, I only thought a handful were exceptional.