Students mourn at mock funeral
April 30, 2003
Although the memorial service at Carson High School on Tuesday morning wasn’t real, the emotions were.
“When it happens like this you don’t get a chance to say good-bye,” said 17-year-old Heather Stevens as she wiped tears from her cheeks. “There’s a lot you still want to say. It has changed me.”
The mock funeral was staged for 32 students who pretended they were killed on Monday as part of the Every 15 Minutes program, which is designed to discourage drinking and driving.
The students were seated behind a silver casket during the mock ceremony in the high school’s gymnasium.
“The premise is that every 15 minutes, someone in this country dies in an alcohol-related incident,” explained Battalion Chief Stacey Giomi of the Carson City Fire Department, who officiated the funeral. “All these people here are alive and well. But they represent real people all across the United States who died in the last day.”
The program was organized by Katie Torvenin as her senior project and supported by community agencies including the fire and sheriff departments.
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During the memorial service, parents read their last thoughts, written into letters, to their children.
“Today my heart stopped beating,” Kimm Biagi read to her daughter Lainie. “Today, I lost a part of me, the reason for being who I am. I want you back.”
A 1992 graduate, Robb Owen spoke to the students about the true grief he suffered and continues to suffer since his father was killed and his mother injured when they were struck by a drunk driver.
“One man made a decision that cost me my life and my father’s,” he said. “My dad was going to stand next to me the day I married my wife. She doesn’t even know him.
“The guy’s in jail, but it doesn’t matter. I want my dad back.”
The message came just as students are making plans for Saturday’s prom and for graduation in about a month.
Mike Petterson, father of Megan Petterson, who was one of the pretend deceased, read a letter to his daughter.
In conclusion, he called Megan’s boyfriend and prom date, Stuart Law, to the pulpit and handed him a rose.
“Take good care of her,” he directed.