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Valley Focus | Encino

Wrecked Car Used for Message to Kids

April 30, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

A mangled mess of twisted steel and broken glass--formerly a gray 1983 Toyota Corolla 2-door--was towed into the parking lot at Crespi Carmelite High School early Wednesday.

One year ago, the vehicle crashed into several parked cars in the Valley in a possible alcohol-related accident, said Santiago Rosales, traffic safety officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division.

"The California Highway Patrol arrived several hours after the accident had occurred so they were unable to determine if alcohol had been involved," Rosales said. "But this is typical of DUI accidents."

Through June 4, the wrecked car will be displayed at other Valley-area high schools as part of the Sober Graduation High School Program, organized by the Traffic Safety Unit of the Valley Traffic Division and the California Highway Patrol.

"Our main focus is to educate the students on the dangers of drinking and driving and trying to keep it a sober graduation," Rosales said. "The visual aids are enhancements to drive the message home."

With sharp pieces of sheared metal intruding into the passenger compartment, the heavily damaged car delivered a shocking but effective visual message to Crespi students.

"If you drink, it shows that it's not worth getting behind the wheel," said junior Anthony Rimicci, 17.

On Wednesday morning, groups of 30 to 40 students viewed the wreckage and a photo display of alcohol-related car accidents.

They also got a feeling of what it's like to have a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08% through the use of "fatal vision goggles"--lenses that simulate the effect of being under the influence.

With goggles on, senior Kevin Scully, 18, had trouble touching his nose and objects placed 2 feet in front of his eyes, balancing on one foot and walking in a straight line.

"It feels like you have no control of what you're doing," Scully said. "That helps you realize not to drink and drive."

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