MADD reaches out to Estancia parents [Corrected]

COSTA MESA — The call came at 3:16 a.m., directing him to get to the trauma center immediately. His daughter had been gravely injured in a car crash.

An earlier version should have included information that the Tanner family is paying more than $5,000 of the $40,000 in medical bills.

It was "the phone call no parent wants to get," Jeff Tanner recalled.

Jackie Tanner, 16, had been drinking and gave her car keys to the designated driver. But the driver had a curfew and left the party early.

So another boy, who had also been drinking, got behind the wheel.

He wound up hitting a streetlight. Jackie wasn't wearing her seat belt.

It took eight surgeons and 10 hours to save her life.

She had a fractured skull — the top was crushed — and went blind in her left eye. She missed three weeks of school and, regardless of having insurance, the family accumulated $400,000 in medical bills, but the family is only responsible for more than $5,000 of the expenses.

"If it can happen to us, it can happen to your kids," he said.

Tanner and his daughter both spoke at Estancia High School on Thursday about the dangers of teenage drinking. Jackie spoke in front of her peers at a student assembly earlier in the day, while Jeff spoke that night at a parents workshop by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Teen drinking kills about 6,000 people a year and is 100% preventable, MADD of Orange County Community Specialist Tiffany Townson told a group of about 20 parents and a few children.

Parents are the most important factor in teen drinking, she said.

Townson used statistics to show that high school students, and even some in middle school, are drinking. She also urged parents not to let their children drink in the house because it's an act that leads to more drinking outside the home.

Estancia Principal Kirk Bauermeister didn't mince words.

"I want you to know it's illegal for your kids to be drinking," he said. "It's not OK."

A parent of two college-aged daughters, Bauermeister told parents to know their children's friends, whose house they are going to, and to stop by unannounced if their kids go to a house of a friend parents do not know.

He also showed parents how to check their children for alcohol and marijuana by having the children put both of their fists under their chin and then stand six inches from them. He would move his finger and watch their eyes.

The technique works even for parents that don't know what they are doing because they are "close enough to smell their breath," he said.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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