Story and photos by Kerstin Lopez
More than 1,500 Soldiers watched as a drunk-driving scenario unfolded before them on Pershing Drive June 15.
The mock crash portrayed two pedestrian Soldiers hit by a truck occupied by two intoxicated Soldiers. One victim was in “critical condition” and the other was pronounced “dead on the scene.”
Ed Menjivar, Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator, said the purpose of the mock crash is to increase awareness about the consequences of drinking and driving, as well as to minimize the number of individuals killed by making the wrong choice.
“This makes people understand that their lives are very valuable and that there are many people who are affected by (their) behavior including parents, children, friends and co-workers,” Menjivar said.
During 2010, four Soldiers from Fort Carson were killed on Colorado highways after someone drove under the influence of alcohol.
ASAP conducted the scenario in support of the 2011 Summer Sense Campaign, which provides the community a realistic perspective of the effects and consequences of drinking and driving, Menjivar said.
Several services such as The Springs Funeral Services, American Medical Response, Designated Driver of Colorado Springs and the Army Substance Abuse Program, came together to perform the scenario for the Soldiers of Fort Carson.
Sgt. Jose Barraza, Fort Carson traffic officer, said he’s witnessed scenes such as the mock crash come to life during his seven years working on the installation.
“One of the biggest things I still don’t understand is why we’re drinking and driving,” Barraza said.
Nonie Rispin, Designated Driver of Colorado Springs executive director, was happy to be a part of the campaign and said she hopes the message reaches each Soldier.
“We feel like you folks are out there protecting our way of life and keeping us safe, it’s the very least we could do to keep you safe no matter where you are,” Rispin said.
Her program offers free rides for military Tuesday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and is designed to prevent servicemembers from getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that you guys go over to Afghanistan or Iraq and you survive over there, and you come home and decide to unwind a little bit and make a poor choice and end up with a DUI, or dead or killing your buddies,” Rispin said.
Ira Steele, safety officer, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, said Soldiers need to realize the consequences of their choices and remember what’s at stake. And the best prevention is to have a plan in place before going out and drinking.
“Cost versus risk … what is the cost if I take this risk?” Steele said. This is what he wants Soldiers to remember and consider before making those wrong choices such as driving while intoxicated.
Menjivar said the attendance for the mock crash was great and his hope is that the message reached each Soldier.
“I was very pleased with the results. However, the end results are never known, but there is always hope that those who attended received the message loud and clear,” he said.
For more information about the Designated Driver of Colorado Springs, go to http://www.noduicosprings.com or call 719-650-3450.