Fuzzy focus for sobering message

Auburn teens don goggles simulating being impaired
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Placer High students are keenly aware of the dangers of impaired driving.

In 2016, students at the Auburn school returned from Easter break to mourn the deaths of two freshmen killed by a driver later convicted of murder while impaired on sleep aid Ambien.

They readily donned goggles Friday that distorted their vision field much the way being drunk on alcohol or high on cannabis would feel like as they attempted to steer pedal carts through safety cones, “walked the line,” and attempted to stack cups.

Katie Schwab, 17, was a freshman at the school when Jared Gaches and Trevor Keller, also both freshmen, were killed April 3, 2016, while walking on the side of Highway 49.

Schwab, Placer’s student body president, said her fellow students already know all too well the impact of impaired driving, having lived through the tragedy of two years ago.

But Friday’s event — teaming the Auburn Police Department with the Placer County Youth Commission, Trevor D. Keller Scholarship foundation and Rocklin Youth — added a new focus to the warnings students have heard many times about impaired driving, she said.

“It’s not a new message,” Schwab said. “But it’s definitely a way to experience it rather than hear it.”

Colton Hicks, 16, said he emerged slightly dizzy from his goggle experience.

“We have this message already but it reinforces it,” Hicks said.

About 65 students participated in the event, which took place in the Auburn Park Preserve parking lot. Organizers said it was a success, reaching teens during a time just before winter