MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
When browsing through http://www.savealifetour.com, facts are given regarding alcohol related vehicle accidents, such as the fact that more than 500,000 people are killed or injured every year due to an alcohol related crash. Those numbers equate to someone being killed or injured every sixty seconds.
The Save a Life Tour visited the Combat Center Oct. 26 through 30, holding two presentations at Sunset Cinema each day to ensure most of the Marines and sailors aboard the installation had the opportunity to attend their seminar.
The tour is an alcohol awareness program that sends personnel traveling throughout the United States, and sometimes overseas, to hold presentations and seminars about the causes and effects of drunk driving.
The presentations start with a ten-minute video showing gruesome images of drivers who did not survive crashes after drinking and driving. As the video became more grisly, some Marines had to stand up and leave the room.
“The best part of the show were the movies,” said Cpl. Jesse Williams, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “When you see those body parts it helps get it in their minds that they can end up like that. Especially for me—I hate seeing bodies laying like that.”
After the movie, Chris Geysbeek, a manager with Save a Life Tour, stood up and spoke to the Marines and sailors attending the event. He told his personal story and why he was there to stop service members from drinking then driving.
The noise in the theater died down as Geysbeek recounted his best friend being killed by a drunk driver, throwing him off his motorcycle sending him flying 400 feet before he finally landed. Geysbeek performed CPR in hopes he could save his friend until the ambulance arrived.
“My hope is that every day one person might take something away from this presentation,” said Geysbeek, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native. “I want them to be able to step up and take keys from their friends. I want them to be smart and think about what they are doing.”
At the end of the presentation, Geysbeek opened the floor to service members who wished to try the simulator, which gives people the illusion of driving drunk while sober.
The simulator is made up of three big screens and the driver’s side of a car that includes a seat, speedometer, emergency brake, ignition, steering wheel, turn signal and air bag.
“We are putting the alcohol delay people normally experience while drunk inside the car instead of the human,” Geysbeek said. “So the commands between the brake, gas and steering wheel are going to be delayed as the simulation continues.”
As the Marines took the seat and began ‘driving’ they realized the higher the level, the harder it was to steer, especially with Chris behind them screaming “Turn left! Turn left!” down a one-way street.
Marines had to restart the simulation many times before they reached level 11, the highest level there was—and then they would unintentionally crash into a bus or a building.
“We wanted to bring the message of drunk driving in a different venue than we normally do,” said Beth Ayash, the Drug Demand Reduction Coordinator for Marine Corps Community Services, who helped coordinate the Save a Life Tour visiting the Combat Center. “We are trying to educate these Marines about the fact that drunk driving kills and destroys lives.”