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A Year Has Passed ... Did Novato Learn from Isaac Brott's Death?

Alcohol-related crash near Stafford Lake took the life of a sober 15-year-old beloved by many at Novato High. Have teens ratcheted back the partying atmosphere? Are they finding safer ways to have fun?

The death of young , one year ago today, shook up the Novato community. For some, it seems like yesterday. Maybe others have blocked it out of their memories.

Brott was with a group of three other boys cutting class and taking a joyride in a BMW. There was alcohol in the car, and there was too much speed as they tried to negotiate a bend on Novato Boulevard on the western outskirts of town. The car slammed into an eastbound tractor-trailer hauling cattle, and Brott was killed.

The driver of the car, a 16-year-old boy from Novato High, later admitted to charges in Marin County juvenile court including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing great bodily injury, DUI with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more and driving without a license. The teen, whose name was withheld because of his age, pleaded guilty to all the charges.

The incident took place five years after two Novato boys were killed in an alcohol-related crash on Indian Valley Road. The mothers of those boys of Isaac Brott last year and questioned what it will take to get teens to have a good time together without putting their lives in danger.

Has a year changed anything in Novato? After the crash, that only kids themselves could reverse the tide of alcohol-related peer pressures; having adults force it was going to backfire. So, has there been a reversing of the tide? Are fewer teens partaking? Share your thoughts on this by adding a comment below.

Bob Ratto September 18, 2011 at 03:30 AM
I live close to there, and I observe the ongoing memorial all the time. I feel for the parents, and really hope this sad anniversary doesn't go without thought about what all have the power to do to curb this behavior. Kids will be kids is not the answer, parents knowing what is going on is....
Novato Chess Club September 18, 2011 at 03:04 PM
A very nice moment of silence was held at Novato HS on Friday, and every kid in the class was silent. I think they get the message, it is the choice they make at the TIME that matters. My thoughts to them were "your parents will love you more if you call for a ride"
Joe September 18, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Young people will always think of themselves as immortal. Wisdom comes with age but we can always hope.
Dayna M. McEachern September 18, 2011 at 04:31 PM
As parents we must keep talking to our kids, even when we think they aren't listening. We also have to show them by our own examples what is acceptable and what is not. We have to stop being afraid to raise the expectations we place on them, they WILL rise to the occasion because our disappointment means so much more than our anger. It takes a village to raise one child.
KIM September 18, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Two years ago, Novato High started a chapter of Friday Night Live (FNL). The NHS club meets on Thursdays during the lunch hour in Mr. Nieman's classroom. www.fridaynightlive.org/ Their mission is to promote healthy lifestyles free of alcohol, tobacco, or other substance abuse among youth.
Sylvia Barry September 18, 2011 at 05:26 PM
I believe that parents, schools and the community should do our best to encourage, steer, and provide our kids/students with the opportunity to be engaged in healthy (mentally, physically), productive, fun learning environment and extra-curricular activities. Being involved in various activities also provide them with the opportunities to make friends that will be a positive influence in their life, which is invaluable. The kids need to have the courage, confidence and belief that they are their own person and be able to not give into peer pressure. My kids learned very early on from the schools (and yes, the Blue Ribbon Week) and us that alcohol and drugs are not the healthy nor the right thing to do. We used to host cast parties for San Marin Musical Theater and the kids (50, 60? who knows) always had a great time even though there was no drinking involved - just want to demystify that kids think it's only fun if there is alcohol served when they go to parties. Those kids are the ones who have confidence in themselves and their friends and they do not feel they need to drink to fit in or impress. We have wonderful kids in town; to emphasize their positive behaviors will help reinforce what they learned from the school and life – that It is O.K. to be good kids and that they are the majority instead of the minority!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) September 18, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Great comments. Boy, it would be great to hear from some teens to find out how it's really going on the party front.
Thomas September 18, 2011 at 09:40 PM
@Brent, things are probably pretty much the same. Especially from some teens I heard at a neighbor's just other night partying. I went through this when I was in high school, a girl flipped her cabriolet car missing a turn down hill and smacking a curb hard, and a boy passenger we all knew (small school), who had a brother too still in our school, was killed instantly. All were drunk. While it was a huge event in our community and it created a lot of somber conversations, things eventually reverted back - partying (drinking, etc) resumed. I have seen that repeat too in other places and times. It's a long conversation about teen partying. But I agree, it is about empathic conversation and parental leadership in making that kind of early realization and personal responsibility blossom from inside each teen. Many do avoid going deep with being out of control, we all have been there I am sure in recalling our own experiences with our peers back then.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) September 19, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Thanks for sharing that, Thomas. The part about reverting back to the normal party routine is troubling. That's what Novato teens told me in this story -- http://patch.com/A-ckR1 -- after Isaac's death. Even the amazing Every 15 Minutes presentation doesn't seem to have a lasting effect on kids. Showing restraint has to come from peer pressure, not from what adults tell the kids. Maybe teens devastated by alcohol-related accidents that claimed their family members or friends have to speak up more. Ideas?
Thomas September 19, 2011 at 09:23 PM
@Brent: For sure I think that peer pressure to relate these tragedies would have an influence on the part of alcohol and drug consumption around teens. It won't solve all of it of course (since some of this is from teens in emotional crisis of some form), but it would help. It at least brings competition with the other peer pressure always out there to consume.
Rachel Hall November 24, 2011 at 08:24 PM
My name is Rachel, I attended Novato High School with Isaac. I never got to know him, however I knew of him. He was most certainly a very popular, very liked student at our school. I graduated in June of 2011 from Marin Oaks High School and watched all of my classmates crumble at the loss of their dear friend. I have learned alot from his death. But unfortunately, this is what is takes for a teen to wake up from their stupor and realize, "Hey, maybe I'm not invincible afterall." The year prior to the incident, "Every 15 Minutes" had been at our school just before spring break in order to raise awareness that this could very well be one of us. It's horrible to think of the death of one of our peers in this sort of conext, but this is what it will take. It may be cold, but it's sad and true. When the news of Isaac's death reached all of us, I was instantly crushed, even though I did not know the guy. During the accident on Indian Valley Road, I was too young to realize who or what it was all about, just that there was a bad accident and it involved alcohol. I think this has to happen every few years just to remind students. It's sad, but what else can you do?
elise hays May 08, 2012 at 12:44 AM
it is extremly sad im elise hays and i did know isaac he was my best friend i was deprest when i found out the he died

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