A California man is trying to prevent teens from drinking and driving by traveling the country and telling them his story. Brandon Silveria and his father have visited every state in the past ten years and have spoken to nearly three million students about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
"I know there are thousands of people out there that think, this isn't going to happen to me, but let me tell you that it very easily could," Brandon told the crowd of high school students at UT Tyler's Patriot Center.
Seventeen years ago, Brandon was involved in a near-fatal crash when he was a senior in high school. Brandon says he had two beers at a party. He was a mile and a half away from home, when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree. "He lost his memory, walk, balance, all kinds of problems, seizure problems... medication, he's gotta take four times a day, three million dollars in medical bills so far, breaks families apart," said Tony Silveria, Brandon's father.
After the crash, Brandon was in a coma for three months, then spent three years in rehabilitation. "It's not always that you'd had two six packs. It's often when you've just had a little bit, when you think you're still in control and you mix it with unexperienced drivers and a tired body and that is truly trouble," said Tony.
Brandon says his message is simple. "Think about the choices that you make. Stop and think about all these surrounding possibilities," said Brandon.
Students say the story was an eye-opener. "After seeing what could happen if you do drink and drive, that put a toll in my heart that don't nobody could understand, but I'm glad he came out today and he spoke to us about it," said Shaun McGill, 17, a student at Chapel Hill High School. "Right now, we're at an age that people think drinking is cool and they think it's fun and it could cost them things like what we just saw in here," said Veronica Urena, 15, a student at Chapel Hill High School.
Brandon says he hopes his message will save many lives. The East Texas Council of Governments and the Century Council sponsored today's event.