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Drama's Grim Reality Hits Home
Sirens wailed, victims cried out in pain and horror and the drunken driver sat sprawled, head in his hands, as the reality of what had just happened hit him.

The grisly scene was played out Thursday morning along Escalon-Bellota Road, just outside the fence circling the property of Escalon High School.

As juniors and seniors sat motionless in the stands watching the production, their classmates were part of the drama, involved in a mock two-car crash in which one driver - Josh May - caused a fatal wreck because he had too much to drink and made a bad decision that changed lives forever.

Every 15 Minutes, presented by a consortium of local volunteers, working in cooperation with law enforcement, ambulance and fire agencies, was staged for the third time in Escalon. Thursday, April 3 brought the tapping out of students from class 'every 15 minutes' during the morning, those students becoming The Living Dead for the duration of the two-day program. After tapped by The Grim Reaper, they were removed from classrooms - and the lives of their families and friends - until after the program concluded on Friday. Once all participating students were tapped out, they placed their own headstones in a mock graveyard on the high school campus ... then the crash scene was staged.

May's vehicle had heavy front end damage and the car he struck was overturned, its driver - Taylor Finch - on the ground, partially ejected from the vehicle. As their friends watched, the group played out the scene with gripping reality.

Joe Cowan climbed out of the passenger side window of May's vehicle in the back, then gently helped friend Garrett Hawkins, lifting him out the window as well. They checked on Jacob Caton, the front seat passenger, whose lifeless body was sprawled across the hood, thrown there upon impact. Behind the driver's seat, Jesus Duran sat motionless, drifting in and out of consciousness. May, stunned and bloodied, half climbed, half fell out of his vehicle and frantically started surveying the scene.

In the other car, Brittany New emerged from the wreckage and crawled to her friend Taylor, screaming at her to wake up, begging her to move. She then made her way back to the car to check on her friends, with Morgan Brown and Amanda Franklin still trapped in the upside down vehicle.

Amidst the carnage, San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department Lt. Chris Stevens calmly told the audience about what they were seeing ... a scene that occurs all too often among teens, when one bad decision can impact many lives.

"They call it the Golden Hour," Stevens explained to the hushed crowd, noting that a person's chances of survival when injured in a car accident are best when they receive critical care in that first hour.

As he set up the scenario, the first police car arrived on the scene. Fire trucks and an ambulance quickly followed, with crews going about their task of tending the wounded with quiet efficiency. New had to be physically pulled away, not wanting to leave Finch ... even as the tarp was placed over her crumpled body. May kept trying to leave the scene, wanting to break free from it as if it were all just a bad dream. Forced to take a field sobriety test, May's dream turned in to a nightmare, as he was placed under arrest and taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.