DUI forum, memorial held for late student-athlete

A DUI Safety Forum and Memorial hosted by El Camino College aimed to reveal the dangers of driving under the influence and to remember a former student-athlete.

The memorial was for Sladen Mohl, an ECC student and baseball player during the 2018-2019 season who was killed in an accident by a driver under the influence of drugs.

The forum on Dec. 2 was presented by ECC Athletics, the ECC Police Department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D) and the Student Health Services (SHS).

Collin Preston, director of athletics and kinesiology, said every student-athlete impacts their lives, including Mohl.

“Definitely made me look at myself, look at my friends and surroundings, to make sure that I’m doing what I can do for the best of our community and the best for my family, and it’s something I take to heart every day,” Preston said.

The forum portion of the event began with ECC Police Sargent Ruben Lopez explaining CA Vehicle Code 23152 and driving under the influence (DUI).

“Alcohol affects everyone differently,” Lopez said. “It depends on your weight, it depends on how your body metabolizes alcohol, and what you drink.”

There are multiple consequences for DUI, such as thousands of dollars in fines and jail time, but one consequence that doesn’t stay on record is survivors’ guilt, Lopez said.

“If there’s an accident, you’ve got people in your car and people get hurt, but you don’t, you’re going to have to live with that,” Lopez said.

Melissa Estelle, a senior program specialist with M.A.D.D, spoke about how the program serves victims affected by drinking and driving incidents.

“We are first and foremost against the choice and action of driving under the influence,” Estelle said. “We are not against people who chose to drink alcohol.”

Estelle played a video recorded by Kelly Holter, Mohl’s mother, in which Holter described him as a hard worker and someone who was determined, motivated and positive.

“Although there is nothing positive about losing Sladen, I think the goal is to make positive changes, and we hope that other families don’t have to go through this tragedy,” Holter said.

Nurse practitioner Deborah Herzik said some of the effects alcohol has on the body includes brain shrinkage, risk of cancers and lung infections.

She also said alcohol interferes with the immune systems’ ability to fight off infections, which is notable due to the current pandemic.

The SHS has tools, such as the eCheckup To Go resource, which can help those who want to monitor alcohol or drug usage and understand their own habits, Herzik said.

Assistant baseball coach Grant Palmer and former ECC student baseball player Zach Findlay, described how much determination Mohl had not only in his baseball career but also in life.

“Sladen was someone you couldn’t compare to, there is no one like him,” Findlay said. “He had this beautiful heart, this beautiful mind and he had this work ethic, that Grant mentioned, that he wanted to be the best he could be.”

Towards the end of the event, Findlay reminiscence on how Mohl’s accident changed his life and how he wants people to learn from the presentation.

“This is something I want every single student to be aware of, to be as responsible as they can be and make others around them better because this is a problem that needs to stop,” Findlay said.