Press Release

Anchorage Students Encouraged to "Make the Right Choice" to Prevent Underage Drinking and Driving

May 22, 2005

(Anchorage) – A young man whose life was turned upside down as a teenager due to drinking and driving had a strong message for students at the Alaska Military Youth Academy.

As a high school student, Brandon Silveria had a few drinks at a party and made the choice to drive home. He fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the centerline, and crashed into a tree. He was in a coma for nearly three months and spent several years in rehabilitation. Brandon had to relearn how to walk, talk and swallow. He suffers permanent brain damage and suffers from dangerous seizures.

Recently Attorney General David Márquez, on behalf of Governor Frank Murkowski, introduced Brandon during a visit to the Youth Academy. Students at the academy received dramatic advice about making the right choices when it comes to drinking and driving.

"What you become depends on the choices that you make," said Brandon. "When I was seventeen, I was active on my high school rowing team, with a job, a girlfriend and a promising future. I lost all of that because of my crash. I hope that by sharing my experiences with other young people, I can prevent others from being hurt or killed."

"Alcohol and substance abuse in Alaska is a top priority concern of both Governor Murkowski and the department of law," said Márquez. "Brandon's story made a lasting impression on me and his audience. His first choice was wrong but he turned it around by making a second choice not to let his tragedy defeat him but rather use it for the good of others."

Today Brandon travels across the country to tell his story through the assistance of the Century Council – a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1991 and funded by distillers to develop programs to combat drunk driving and underage drinking.

The Alaska Military Youth Academy, with support of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, helps "at risk" young Alaskans become self-confident, contributing citizens. The program includes an intense, disciplined, structured, militarystyle 22-week residential course, followed by 12 months of post-residential "after care."

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