Death Experience returns to Mesa

Ian Caffarel, Sports Editor

On Wednesday, March 20, students at San Diego Mesa College were treated to the Death Experience, an exhibit meant to educate students on the harsh realities of drunk and distracted driving.

The Death Experience, put on by Mesa Student Health Services with help from Mesa’s SDCCD police station and the San Diego Fire Department, occurs yearly to show students the consequences of driving under the influence and texting while driving. The guest speaker in attendance was Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright, who prosecutes DUI cases in San Diego County. She shared the story of Jason King, a Marine who killed two USD nursing students in a wrong-way DUI crash in 2016, for which he got 18 years behind bars. In addition to that, San Diego County is worst in the state when it comes to DUI accidents, and among the worst nationwide. Bright mentioned some more implications of DUI charges: A DUI suspect who kills someone in an accident, if they drove despite every effort being made to stop them, such as someone trying to take their keys, can and most likely will be charged with murder, and will generally receive 15 years to life in prison. In addition to that, the accident rate goes up at night, as well as on the weekends (especially at night.)

During all this, firemen from Station 28 demonstrated their techniques on how they’d extricate crash victims from a wrecked vehicle. They would break the windows, puncture the tires, cut off the roof and doors. The whole process took about 20 minutes; in a real crash, they’d dismember the car in less than two. Bright added that modern cars include more lightweight materials such as styrofoam in their bumpers so as to lighten the car and increase fuel efficiency; this also has the drawback of making it harder for rescuers to get the victims out; and the time they spend trying to get the victims out is time that they’re not getting medical attention, and in a critical situation like this, every second counts.

In addition to that, the campus police had a similar exhibit with a field sobriety test that would be conducted at a DUI enforcement or accident, with “beer goggles” to simulate increasing levels of intoxication. Needless to say, it was harder the more “intoxicated” the students were. Going along with it was a simulated driving test where students could do a figure-eight around orange cones twice; once with unimpaired vision, once with the goggles. Again, the laps done by the students wearing the goggles knocked down more cones than those with normal vision.

The experience hit home for several students, some of which had firsthand experience with drunk driving. A female student, an American Sign Language major, had a boyfriend who had had several drinks before driving. She said, “I was praying, ‘God, please take him and not me.’” It ended when she had to be taken home by her father, and her boyfriend lost his license, the title to his car, and received time in jail. Another student, an architecture major, echoed a similar sentiment about the event; “I’d never get in a car with someone who’s been drinking.”

All this is meant to drive home a singular lesson about drunk driving: Don’t even think about it.