Huntington Beach : Wreck Used as Reminder of Drunk-Driving Danger

The mangled remains of what was once a 1982 Plymouth have gone on display at Huntington Beach High School, a reminder to teen-age drivers that drinking and driving don’t mix, police officials said.

The twisted metal, burned rubber and shattered glass are all that is left of a maroon compact car driven by an 18-year-old Huntington Beach youth who was killed when the vehicle crashed into a wall. Tests showed the young man had been drinking, police said.

The wreck will be on display in front of the school through Thursday, with no explanation other than a sign: “Speed and Alcohol--a Deadly Mixture.”

On Friday, the wreck will be moved to Ocean View High School, where it will remain until June 12.


Huntington Beach Police Chief Earle Robitaille came up with the idea of exhibiting the wrecked automobile when he spotted it in front of a local wrecking firm. The department then obtained permission to put the remains on display at local high schools.

A statement released by the city says that more than 200 Orange County youths between the ages of 14 and 19 are killed each year in accidents involving alcohol or drugs. Nationally, while young adults and teen-agers make up 21% of all drivers, they are responsible for 48% of fatal, alcohol-related accidents, according to the statement.

“As the school year closes and students’ thoughts turn to senior proms and graduation parties, the Huntington Beach Police Department wants to remind teen-agers of the destructive realities that can be caused by drunken driving,” the statement says.

Last week, the wreck was displayed at Edison High School. On Saturday, Edison’s senior prom night, the festivities were markedly subdued by a tragic accident the day before in which a 17-year-old senior, Brent Reid, was killed and another student critically injured. The injured student, Paul Wright, 17, was listed in serious condition Monday in Fountain Valley Community Hospital’s intensive care unit. That accident did not involve drinking, officials said.


Original plans called for the wreck to be exhibited at Marina High School this week, but school officials changed their minds after Mark Stillwagon, a former valedictorian, was killed in another non-alcohol accident last week. Another youth also died in the accident, which occurred on a highway between Huntington Beach and Palm Springs.