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News375906

Every 15 Minutes program educates Moorhead High students about impact of drinking and driving

May 3, 2019

“As a 16-year-old, I was telling my brother that he killed his best friend because of a stupid decision he made,” Rylie Langer said about her older brother during her presentation to Moorhead High School juniors and seniors as part of the Every 15 Minutes program held May 2.

The four-part program included the living dead, a mock crash, a student retreat, and a mock memorial service and presentations. Every 15 Minutes is designed to show students the consequences of drinking and/or texting while driving and help students make positive decisions.

On Dec. 13, 2014, the car Tyler Langer was driving crossed the center line and hit a semi, killing Tyler’s best friend and severely injuring Tyler, who had alcohol detected in his system. Tyler suffered a traumatic brain injury. For a while he was cared for by his mother, but now he lives in a group home in Moorhead. 

“Yes, he made it through the accident, but he’s not the same,” said his sister Kylie Langer, now a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead. “He’s stuck in a body that doesn’t work.”

Tyler can’t walk, he can only use one hand, and he communicates with a letter board, Langer told the students.  

The presentation by Langer was part of the final assembly. The first part of the Every 15 Minutes program occurred on May 1, when students were removed from classes as part of the “living dead” and obituaries written by their parents were read to their classmates.

The students involved in the program were separated from family and friends overnight as part of a retreat. One exercise the students did during the retreat was to write letters to their parents that began with the phrase, “Today I died in an alcohol-related accident and never got the chance to tell you...” Their parents also wrote letters to them.

Officer Scott Kostohryz with the Moorhead Police Department introduced the May 2 assembly. Although the mock car crash planned for May 1 was canceled because of rain, students viewed a video of the events leading up to and the aftermath of the mock car crash, including the police, fire fighter and paramedic response, emergency room treatment and, for the drunk driver, being charged with criminal vehicular homicide, among other charges, and going to trial and jail.

Following the video, two students and their parents shared letters during the morning assembly. One student said she wished she could have said one last goodbye. Her father read, “The day a daughter is born a father holds her tight and is instantly worried he won’t be able to protect her.”

Then Langer took the stage and shared the details of her story. She felt guilty for not having gone to watch movies that night with her brother. After his accident, she experienced depression because of the decision Tyler made. She asked the students to make good choices and to have a plan. Langer had students raise their hands if they knew who they would call for a ride if they were ever in a situation where they shouldn’t drive.

“It’s so preventable. You’re not only putting your life at risk, you’re putting innocent people on the road at risk,” Langer said. “It’s not worth it.”

Josh Haag, Moorhead High School assistant principal, concluded the program by reminding students that they are part of the Spud family and decisions they make impact others.

“It’s not just about prom,” Haag said. “It’s about every day for the rest of your life.”

Every 15 Minutes was developed in the mid-1990s, and at that time every 15 minutes someone died in an alcohol-related accident. The program is designed to challenge students to think about the consequences of driving impaired or distracted. For more information about the Every 15 Minutes program visit http://www.every15minutes.com.

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